Returning home Saturday afternoon from a trip to New York for Pope Francis’ U.S. visit, Carmen Luisa Coya-van Duijn was happy beyond words.
After all, she’d just helped interpret the pope’s Mass the night before at Madison Square Garden. Coya-van Duijn was part of a communications team that translated portions of the Mass from Spanish to English for television.
“The production truck I was in was feeding out to a variety of networks, and it was also feeding into the jumbotrons (at the arena),” she said. “Any translation that was written and broadcast, my responsibility was to examine it and make sure it made sense.”
Added Coya-van Duijn: “My primary purpose was making sure when the Pope spoke in Spanish, that it was understood.”
As the communications coordinator for Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Flowery Branch, she said it was an honor to represent her home city and church. A New York native, she said it was also nice getting to visit the Empire State again.
“Being able to represent Georgia, back in the state of my birth ... it was just over the top. It was great,” she said. “Going back, especially for something like this, it felt phenomenal.”
The Flowery Branch woman first worked in television as a producer for MTV, CNN and other networks, a prior skill set she said served her well in her work Friday.
She said her key takeaway from Francis’ message was that the Gospel “is something we need to live, not just talk about. We should take care of each other and put human life first. We need to embody the idea of ‘In God We Trust.’”
In the early evening Friday, Francis led a parade through Central Park past the crowd and celebrated Mass at Madison Square Garden, usually the site of basketball games and rock concerts.
“Living in a big city is not always easy,” Francis told 18,000 people at the Garden. “Yet, big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches present in our world in the diversity of its cultures, traditions and historical experiences.”
On Saturday morning, Francis flew to Philadelphia for a big Vatican-sponsored rally for Catholic families. As many as 1 million people are expected to attend a closing Mass today, the last day of Francis’ six-day, three-city visit to the United States, the first of his life.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.