A Convert Travels To Catholic World Youth Day

A South Carolina woman, new to the Catholic Church, is on her way to Brazil to see the pope. She tells host Rachel Martin that she feels Pope Francis is a role model for young Catholics.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're now going to hear from one of the young pilgrims traveling to Brazil to see the pope. Hannah Mayo lives in Charleston, S.C. She converted to Catholicism just a couple months ago.

MARTIN: She joins us from Charleston. Hannah, thanks so much for being here.

HANNAH MAYO: Thank you.

MARTIN: So I understand that you weren't actually planning on going to the World Youth Day in Brazil. But a few friends - new friends, perhaps in your new church, help make it possible?

MAYO: Yeah. So they got together and decided that if I was going to be coming into the church that they'd like to give me a welcoming present.

(LAUGHTER)

MAYO: And so, they kind of helped sign me up and sponsored me to come. So it's not something I would have chosen for myself, but just feeling really blessed to be able to go.

MARTIN: So what are your expectations for this? I mean, this is a huge pilgrimage; Catholics from all over the world will be there. What are you as a new Catholic in particular are hoping to get out of this experience?

MAYO: I guess I've kind of just developed this excitement about seeing what it is to be Catholic, and see the fervor and see the truth acted out.

MARTIN: Do you have any specific opinions about Pope Francis himself - his potential impact on the church?

MAYO: Gosh, I just think it's great.

(LAUGHTER)

MAYO: The love that he has for his people is so obvious. It's not even just like a little bit that kind of shines through. It's like he is full on blast in like Jesus is love. For myself, as a young adult and other young adults, that is just so encouraging because we want to be emboldened to go out and serve as he serves. And he does. He really has a heart for the poor. He's really a pope of the people.

MARTIN: In the past few years, the Catholic Church has been wrapped up in several different controversies...

MAYO: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: ...sex abuse scandals, women's role in the church - questions about that - gay marriage. I wonder if those issues, those controversies, did they affect how your non-Catholic friends and family may have reacted to your decision to convert?

MAYO: I think initially, sure. Many friends, you know, well, gosh, you know, why would you want to go to a church where they don't allow women to lead? They're not saying no to women leading, they're just saying we have other ways for you to lead. For me, having to face those controversies coming in, I had to learn exactly what the Catholic Church taught because I did have those people asking me, well, what do you feel about that because the church that you're going to, they really feel strongly.

And, you know, I had to say you know what? I agree with them, and here's why. I guess the blessing was that once I finally understood why the church said the things that it did, they just have something bigger for their people. And so I embrace that.

MARTIN: Hannah Mayo is a 24-year-old convert to the Catholic Church. She's flying to Brazil to participate in the Catholic gathering World Youth Day.

Hannah, thanks so much for your time and have a great trip.

MAYO: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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