THOMASVILLE, N.C. — If a picture can say a thousand words then imagine how many stories will be told from one moment and hundreds of photos with Pope Francis.
Mychal Rhoney, 1, of Thomasville, was blessed by the Pope Sunday. The Rhoney family followed Pope Francis to Philadelphia to witness a large public mass. During the trip to that mass, the Pope blessed about one dozen babies and children including Mychal.
“With my son being named after a priest and then getting to meet the Holy Father himself I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said his father Michael Rhoney.
The Rhoney family said they waited three hours in security then got lucky when a roadblock opened and Michael was able to get his son close enough to the street the Pope was travelling. People closer to the Pontiff helped Michael get his son into the arms of the Pope’s security.
Since then, the Rhoneys have been collecting photos from news services, friends and strangers to help them remember their son’s moment with the leader of the Catholic Church.
“I just want him to know how lucky it is to get that chance to be one of the few people that are picked and held and kissed by the Pope,” said Michael Rhoney.
Mychal is named after NYPD fire chaplain Mychal Judge who was killed in 9/11. Rhoney identified him as the first recorded victim of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Ironically, Mychal’s father said his son was bypassed for a blessing by an archbishop earlier in the day.
“On our way in, while we were still outside the security checkpoint, Archbishop Joseph Chaput walked past us and he blessed my wife’s rosary and my daughter Gentry, who was in the stroller next to Mychal,” said Rhoney.
The boy was not ignored the second time around and now there are hundreds of pictures of Mychal in the Pope’s hands for a special prayer that will fill scrapbooks and shadowboxes in the Rhoney house.
“Having him bless one of your children is, to me, is a life changing event, something that will never happen again,” said Rhoney.