After years of blogging about his faith and connection with God, Houston native Aaron Lee Ledesma, 23, has received the honor of being in attendance for The Pope’s highly-anticipated visit to The White House.
“Any religious person is searching for signs and affirmation for their faith,” Ledesma told Fusion. “This is in a way a miracle.”
When he first heard that Pope Francis planned to visit the U.S., Ledesma wrote a letter to President Obama to express how it important it was to him to be at The White House to witness his two governing bodies come together. On Aug. 13, Ledesma was shocked by a call from the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence, who said they were moved by his letter and invited him to the papal ceremony. “I thought to myself, ‘I hope no one is messing with me and I’m not getting punked.’ There’s just no words to describe what I felt,” said Ledesma.
Born to an Irish mother and a Mexican father, Ledesma grew up attending Catholic school up until college. After coming out at 21, Ledesma said that he felt comfortable returning to the church because of Pope Francis’ open acceptance of the LGBT community. Although The White House did not specify if he would get to meet El Papa, Ledesma has a good idea of what he would do if he got to meet him.
“I think I’m being treated like everyone else that’s allowed to go,” he said. If he does get to meet the pope, Ledesma says he would just hug him and say “thank you for showing love, support, and opening the church to me.”
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop, will also be in attendance for The Pope’s visit. Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive at The White House on Sept. 23, which is expected to draw thousands to the South Lawn.