By Michael Hill
If you blinked at 8:18 this morning, you could’ve missed Pope Francis zooming to the United Nations, waving to an eager, enthusiastic gathering set to capture the moment.
When asked if she saw the pope, Anne Knab said, “No, because I was too busy taking pictures. I got his Fiat.”
But Bergenfield’s Myrna Peralta missed it.
“I was focusing up there but he was down here. He passed by. It’s such a small car. I saw him that’s more important. And we saw him waving, smiling,” said Peralta.
A once in a lifetime opportunity for folks who lined streets of Manhattan hoping to get a snapshot of the pope.
“I took a video of him,” said Junilson Nunez. “I got to see him with my eyes. I had the camera, I was like, yes it’s him. It was great”
Suzzane Muraya knows her photos won’t make the front page, but she shared them nonetheless.
“For my children,” she said.
Muraya works for the U.N. Environmental Program. Pope Francis told the largest ever General Assembly to protect the environment.
“Any harm done to the environment therefore, is harm to humanity,” said Francis.
Francis said he hopes the Iran nuclear deal brings desired fruits and he urged world leaders to respect every human life and those seen as disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic.
Along the pope’s scheduled route, free newspapers, flags for sale, a picture of the pontiff perched above the foot exfoliating and softening cream, and vendors offering “I love Pope Francis” tee shirts.
“He’s giving hope,” said Mike Thompson.
Police put up barriers as the faithful — filled with fervor — prepared to welcome the pope to the September 11 Memorial and Museum, where he prayed with several faiths. Among those waiting, 12-year-old Georgina Paredes of Transfiguration Academy in Bergenfield.
“I think he’s amazing and nice, especially coming in a Fiat instead of a limousine,” she said.
“I was waiting yesterday by the Cathedral. I wasn’t lucky, hopefully today,” said Teresa Arevalo.
“Hopefully to get the blessing. That would mean a lot to me,” said Cynthia Fernan.
Francis offered comfort to 9/11 first responders, survivors and victims’ families.
“They were able to show me the other face of this attack, the other face of their pain, the power of love and remembrance. A memory that does not leave us empty,” said Francis.
For many here, the meaning of the pope’s message is bigger than the man — as they embrace a pope of and for the people.