Student’s letter chosen to be sent to Pope

Grace Floerke writes her letter to Pope Francis. (submitted photo)

The chance to have a personal letter read by one of the most influential figureheads in the world is not an opportunity that comes along every day.

When a young Waterloo girl found out a letter she wrote was selected to be sent to the Pope, she was ecstatic.

Every year, Bishop Edward K. Braxton of the Belleville Diocese invites children from the diocese’s Catholic elementary schools to write a personal letter to the Pope on the anniversary of his election. Pope Francis celebrated the first anniversary of his election March 13. Among the Catholic elementary schools in the diocese, only one letter was chosen to be sent to the Pope.

Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School’s own Grace Floerke was chosen and her letter has been sent to the Pope. She is a seventh grader at SPPCS and is the daughter of Brad and Michelle Floerke of Waterloo.  Both Grace and her parents were thrilled with the news.

“Grace was so excited when she was notified that her letter was the one chosen,” her mother Michelle said. “She was grinning from ear to ear.  We are very proud of her.”

In her letter to the Pope, Grace wrote about students preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation and how her brother has been reading about Pope Francis’ work with the poor and how it has helped him.

She congratulated Pope Francis on his one-year anniversary and praised him on the leadership he has displayed for the Catholic Church:

“All of my classmates thought that this new ‘pope thing’ was no big deal, but suddenly, BOOM! Magazines! Newspapers! Television reports! It all happened so fast. The world was seeing you as a servant, not a king, a friend, not some sort of tyrant over the Catholics. The hot topic of our religion class (and pretty much our entire school) has been about helping the poor and trying to figure out ways to help one another. Oh Pope Francis, don’t you see? When you are not in the spotlight, you are gleaming brightly in the hearts of all people. I am not just saying this. Your inspiration has every Catholic involved in giving materials to those who need them most.”

She wrote about her efforts to refrain from sinning and how he helped her see sin and service in a whole new light:

“Before you hopped into your papal position, I would still be looking down in my own self pity when I could be searching for other ways to serve the Lord. Now I come back to those three world-changing phrases. ‘Go, do not be afraid, and serve.’ You were right. All I needed to do was not be afraid. I should not have been afraid of the consequences to come, but to serve others and mend my relationship with Jesus.”

Grace told the Republic-Times she was “ecstatic” when she found out about her letter being sent to the Pope.

“It is a great honor for my letter to be selected to represent the Belleville Diocese, and for that I’m grateful,” she said.

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