Columbus woman reflects on magical moment with Pope Francis

Columbus woman reflects on magical moment with Pope Francis

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - More than a dozen people from Columbus got the once in a lifetime chance to see Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope to visit the U.S.

The backstory to how one woman from Columbus received the distinguished honor to take part in the festivities made it through the halls of the west wing at the White House.

Candace Poole volunteered to take the trip with her aunt who is a retired educator in her 80s - just to carry her luggage. That good deed alone, garnered Poole more than she could have ever dreamed.

Her aunt, Sister Grace Marie Dillards, lives in Savannah. Decades ago she taught at Mount DeSales Academy in Macon.  During the 1981 graduation class, sister Dillards wrote an inspiring message in the yearbook of one of her students.

"His name is Douglas Brooks and he said that note inspired him whenever he fell on hard times and he would read it because he talked about how he would do great things because he was capable of it," explained Poole.

Since that day, Brooks has wanted to find a way to thank his lifelong teacher.

"She gets a call letting her know that she's going to get a call from the White House and that it's no joke, to answer the phone," added Poole.

When the call came to Dillards the other person on the phone said, 'You've been invited to the White House for Pope Francis' Welcoming Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Douglas then told his co-workers in the west wing about his favorite teacher coming to see the Pope and one of them graciously decided to hand over an extra ticket she had to Poole.

"She said she wanted me to experience the event as well and I was like, I do need to sit down," Poole said.

Poole said the trip was amazing and the most joyful occasion she has ever attended, having lived in DC years ago.

"The line to get in that morning had to be a mile and a half long and Douglas got her in, we bypassed all of that and even passed people like Bernie Sanders," Poole said.

Poole says there was such a calmness among the large crowd of 14,000 guests who attended the event.

"Everyone was happy, no one was trying to bustle to get a better view, they were happy to help everyone and the Pope came within 8 feet of us."

Poole works at United Way in Columbus with the 211 program. She helps match people with agencies that can meet their needs which she says goes right along with the Pope's giving heart.

Copyright 2015 WTVM. All rights reserved.