For the Gondreau family, the moment of a lifetime has morphed into an opportunity for evangelization with a personal twist. After photos of Pope Francis embracing Dominic Gondreau on Easter Sunday took the world by digital storm, one was selected as the image for a “Prayer of Discipleship” prayer card offered by Our Sunday Visitor in honor of the new pope.
Paul Gondreau, Dominic’s father, found out about the prayer card from a friend on Facebook and reached out to OSV, which had printed more than 50,000 prayer cards in English and Spanish.
“I love that I can hand that out now as a great memento to this grand moment and at the same time give them this prayer of discipleship,” Paul said, calling from Rome where he is finishing a semester teaching theology abroad for Providence College in Rhode Island. “It’s a tool for evangelization.”
The image is poignant: the 76-year-old Argentine pontiff embracing the 8-year-old with cerebral palsy. Ironically, though he was in St. Peter’s Square, Paul observed the moment the same way most of the rest of us did: on TV. He didn’t know Dominic had been picked up by Pope Francis until his oldest son noticed the image on the jumbotron.
“Words can’t describe how much it moves you to look up and see the pope embracing your own child,” Paul said. “God had chosen that moment to once again teach the logic of the Gospel, which is: The weak and the needy are the ones who give us the most important lessons in life.”
The Gondreaus have used the prayer card with the image of Pope Francis and Dominic as both a souvenir and as a spiritual token.
“Here’s this great little memento with a picture on it,” he said. “Who knows who is touched?”
Through the loving embrace, Paul said the family had been humbled by the pope’s witness of love for all people.
“That God chose as his instrument an elderly old man in the person of the holder and the boy with cerebral palsy in the person of Dominic turns the logic of the culture completely on its head,” he said. “It teaches us both how to show love and how to receive love. That’s what that moment really teaches us. We’re all searching for that, and that’s why everyone is moved by it.”
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