Silas Bichler, an altar server at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota who has cerebral palsy, is seen with Father Matthew Grady, Pastor. Silas has been granted a request to see Pope Francis through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (COURTESY)

Sarasota altar server has Vatican wish granted

SARASOTA  |  A teenage altar server at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota with only one wish had it granted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation with a special party on March 2.

Make-a-Wish Foundation representatives joined Father Matthew  Grady, Pastor of Incarnation Parish, to officially grant 18-year-old Silas Bichler his one and only request: a tour of the Vatican and a meeting with Pope Francis.

Silas, who was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy, is an altar server battling many challenges to complete duties others may take for granted. The simple acts of climbing to the altar, holding a chalice, or lighting a candle are often difficult.

His mother, Tonia Bichler, said even when her son was very little he showed his devotion to the Catholic Mass. “I remember at the age of 5, Silas would be in his room acting out parts of the Mass, and today he watches Masses from all over the world on his iPad,” Bichler said.

With the help of Make-a-Wish representatives in Italy, the Sarasota branch of the organization confirmed Silas will leave for Rome March 11. On the agenda is experiencing an authentic Italian cooking class, a tour of the Vatican, and ultimately the chance to personally meet Pope Francis.

Silas, who has some difficulty expressing thoughts, had no trouble sharing how he feels about having his special wish granted by Make-a-Wish Foundation: “Pope Francis is waiting for me.”