Back at home in Hayward, Jasmine Muñoz shows her certificate indicating she met Pope Francis.
josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice
As Pope Francis approached Jasmine Muñoz she was puzzled.
"I was so excited I did not know what was happening," said the 12 year old girl who traveled to the Vatican with her family in mid-April to fulfill her dream of meeting the pope.
Jasmine, a leukemia survivor, was able to make this trip thanks to the Make- A- Wish Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to granting the wishes of children with serious diseases.
At his general audience on April 16 at the Vatican, Pope Francis walked down to where the people were in wheelchairs. There was Jasmine.
After blessing her and touching her face, "the pope told me to pray for him and I handed him an envelope," she recalled.
That package contained letters to the pope from parishioners of St. Joachim in Hayward and a copy of El Heraldo Católico, the Oakland diocese's Spanish-language monthly, which published a story about Jasmine in April.
Next to the girl was his father, Ignacio. "Pope Francis asked me what was my daughter's illness, but I could not answer. I felt a lump in my throat and I began to cry because of my nerves and excitement."
For the elder Muñoz, the best thing was how everything happened that day.
He recalled he told the family they had to hurry because St. Peter Square was filling fast. He told Norma, his wife, to run with their other two young daughters and keep a place as he pushed Jasmine's wheelchair.
"When we got there, I did not see Norma, but the Vatican guards directed us to the first row where all others in wheelchairs were."
Meanwhile, in the crowd and not knowing where Jasmine and her father were, Norma asked God that her daughter would have a chance to see the pope and that Jasmine could deliver the envelope.
"I also wrote a letter to Pope Francis telling him briefly about our daughter and telling him how important it was for him to bless Jasmine and pray for her," Norma said.
After the audience finished, when the family was reunited and Norma knew that Jasmine had the opportunity to be face to face with Pope Francis, she sat down to cry." For me it was the best part of the trip. This was what I wanted and our daughter's dream was fulfilled."
For the rest of her trip, Jasmine liked the architecture of Rome, the churches and the tomb of St. John Paul II. She also liked the holy stairs Jesus climbed as he was going to be judged by Pontius Pilate. The stairs, said to be relocated from Jerusalem by Constantine's mother, St. Helen, are located in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.
Lasagna and chicken were Jasmine's favorite Roman dishes.
Jasmine is very close to being 100 percent cancer free. Doctors are planning to continue to monitor her and she hopes to begin swimming again, one of her favorite activities.
Jasmine is excited because in August, she will enter the eighth grade at St. Joachim. She will no longer have to be home schooled and her two sisters will join her at the school.
While still in Rome, Norma sent pictures of Jasmine meeting with the pope to Rev. Mario Olea, SVD, parochial vicar of St. Joachim. To the surprise of the family, on their return those pictures were placed on the doors of the church.
"The trip was a wonderful and unforgettable experience and a dream come true for all because our daughter was so happy," Norma said.
"To all thank you very much for always supporting me and to Make-A-Wish for making my dream come true," Jasmine said.
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