ST. BONAVENTURE - As the chair of 270Catholic, a prominent organization for young Catholics just outside the D.C. Beltway, Jasmine Jaysingh was thrilled just to be asked to be among the throng to greet Pope Francis at Andrews Air Force Base when he arrived in the United States yesterday.
Maybe, Jaysingh thought, she'd catch a glimpse of him deplaning from the papal jet.
Never did she imagine she'd receive a blessing from the Pope during Wednesday's Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Jaysingh, St. Bonaventure class of 2006, will be one of the 11 gift bearers for Communion during the Mass.
Jaysingh was nominated for the honor by someone in the Archdiocese of Washington, and then selected by the papal Mass liturgy team. (She graciously declined the opportunity to see the Pope at the airport so someone else could take her place.)
"I was in shock when I found out. I was so excited, yet very humbled," said Jaysingh, who played tennis for four years and majored in accounting at St. Bonaventure. She's now an auditor at Kozak, Pollekoff & Goldman, P.C.
Raised in a country where less than 2 percent of the population is Catholic, Jaysingh moved from India to suburban D.C. to attend The Academy of the Holy Cross. Tragically, her mom passed away from cancer, but school officials wouldn't allow the increased financial burden on her father to impact her ability to finish her high school career.
Jaysingh ended up at St. Bonaventure when the coach of Atlantic 10 rival Saint Joseph's, unable to find a roster spot for her, suggested her to Bonnies coach Mike Bates.
"It was amazing to me that a coach from a school in the same conference would do that, so I've been very blessed along the way," said Jaysingh.
"I never thought that I'd be this involved with the church, but as I've grown I've looked back on all my good fortune, on all the things that God has done for me, and the church just feels like home now," she said. "I'm just more at peace and have more joy in my life, and I'm happy to share that with everyone."
Jaysingh participated in a Mass rehearsal Monday night and learned that she will receive a blessing from Pope Francis, "so I will be very close by him," she said.
Jaysingh hopes that people excited about the Pope's visit will carry on his message long after he returns to the Vatican. She's encouraging people to go to walkwithfrancis.org to commit to following his example of prayer and service.
"This is the first pope I have followed very closely," she said. "He is very much a people person, very down to earth ... spreading love and joy and being open to others."