Two weeks ago, John Murphy learned he was going to get to see Pope Francis address a joint meeting of Congress. When he first heard that Pope Francis was coming to America, Murphy wanted to be there in person. He was interested in the pontiff's message because of his work with the Mayo Clinic Values Council, which promotes Mayo Clinic values and perpetuates the Franciscan legacy on its Saint Marys campus, and also as part of his personal values journey. So he expressed his interest to the council, and then the Diocese of Winona. And then he waited.
The answer came after some time and "out of the blue," when he was contacted by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office, with an invitation to attend the address as part of her delegation representing Mayo Clinic. (The diocese, it seemed, had passed along his request.) And the question of where does one stay when there's no room in the inns was soon answered by the Assumption Parrish in Anacostia, which invited Murphy to be a guest in the rectory. (There's a story behind how that came about and what it meant to him.)
"It was just wonderful," Murphy tells us of Pope Francis' address. "It was inspiring." The crowd, he said, was a "beautiful composite" of America. And he was struck by the pope's message of "shared social responsibility." One of the biggest cheers, Murphy says, came when Pope Francis talked about the importance of being guided by the Golden Rule. Murphy, always the Mayo Clinic ambassador, talked to others about why he was there and asked about their impressions. A nurse told him, "My vocation is to care for people as St. Francis cared for people." Another said she was there because Pope Francis is "the Pope of hope." And when she learned Murphy worked at Mayo Clinic, she noted that, "Mayo Clinic is hope for so many people," adding, "We need hope."
The comments made clear the connection to Mayo Clinic values, Murphy says. (Values like respect, compassion, integrity, teamwork and healing.) "Our strength is in our values," he says. Particularly, the value of helping others. "Good life is inspired by the value of helping others," Murphy says. And the Pope's message – "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" – isn't just a religious message, he says. Back at Mayo, Murphy plans to incorporate some of what he heard and observed into a presentation on servant leadership and what it means to be a leader at Mayo Clinic. He and others will use the presentation to "spread the good news of Mayo values" throughout the organization.
Murphy was sent off to see Pope Francis with a special blessing from the Sisters of Saint Francis. They also sent along some items that had been blessed by the Pope. John would have given up his spot in the crowd to them in a heartbeat, and he got choked up when he said that instead, the Sisters told him, "You be our voice." (We'll go ahead and speak for everyone when we thank him for that.)
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