He rose to fame thanks to The Daily Show, came out publicly in 2011, and now works as a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning. Mo Rocca also has a recurring role on The Good Wife and his own show on the Cooking Channel. But the Out100 honoree’s newest claim to fame is that he is the first openly gay man to deliver a reading at a mass officiated by a pope.
As MSNBC and other reports showed, Rocca was on the altar, just feet from Pope Francis, when he took the pulpit Friday at Madison Square Garden's Papal Mass in New York, to read from the Old Testament.
The first reading selected was Isaiah 9:2, which includes the passage:
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned."
Rocca made his Colombian mother proud by reading it in Spanish to the thousands of ticketed faithful attending Pope Francis’s first public mass in the United States.
Rocca, who hosts My Grandmother's Ravioli on the Cooking Channel tweeted, "I am deeply grateful and humbled to have delivered a reading at a Mass celebrated by [Pope Francis]," following the Mass.
I am deeply grateful and humbled to have delivered a reading at a Mass celebrated by @Pontifex
— Mo Rocca (@MoRocca) September 26, 2015
And the reaction to his role in the mass lit-up Twitter.
I'm not making this up, Mo Rocca is opening for the Pope! OMG! @waitwait
— Paula Poundstone (@paulapoundstone) September 25, 2015
— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) September 25, 2015
— Camilalalalalalalala (@Camilala9) September 25, 2015
That was Mo Rocca participating in the Pope's Mass. How many people realize what a huge statement that is? aka he is GAY
— John Feather (@operacat222) September 25, 2015
Congrats to whoever had Mo Rocca in the “first reader at the Papal Mass” pool. Great call. #PopeInNYC
— Justin Beere (@justinforall) September 25, 2015
Pretty awesome to see openly gay @MoRocca, who's mother is Columbian do the first reading for the Mass at MSG with Pope Francis.
— Wilson Cruz (@wcruz73) September 25, 2015
Seriously, what an amazing statement that the Pope has openly gay Mo Rocca give the first reading. A not-subtle message. Bravo.
— Steve Safran (@steviesaf) September 25, 2015
And at least one person poured cold water on those tweeting that Rocca's participation signaled anything other than the Pope's love for all people:
— Phyllis Rampulla (@Felice987) September 26, 2015
Rocca was born to a third generation Italian-American father from Leominster, Mass. and a Colombian mother from Bogota, according to the Latin Post, which reported he grew up as the youngest of three children in a loving, bilingual household in Washington, D.C. His mother immigrated to the nation's capital in 1956, when she was 28 years old.
Watch this clip from MSNBC's coverage of Pope Francis's mass at Madison Square Garden, in which Mo Rocca delivered the first reading, below.