“Wait, the pope is coming?”
This was my friend’s favorite response to whenever the topic of the Papal Visit was brought up these past few weeks. Yes, we know, the pope is coming.
Professors, the news, my family – everyone was talking about this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity.
Fortunately, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in some papal events this past weekend.
On Friday, two of my three classes were canceled so I was able to prepare myself and begin planning my papal experience. My mother even drove down from Rochester, NY to come visit and to see the pope!
Saturday was crazy. My mom and I woke up early and packed lunches for our day in the city. We were able to get tickets to see Pope Francis talk about religious toleration and immigration at Independence Hall. We rode our bikes into the city. (It was so weird to be riding in the middle of huge boulevards with no cars or people on the road.)
When we finally reached Independence Hall we went through security before finding a place on the lawn. We were right next to a jumbotron and only about a block back from the stage. Much waiting and several hours later the pope came by in this Popemobile and stopped right in front of us. The amount of babies he kissed was ridiculous (ridiculously cute, that is!!!).
Pope Francis’ speech on immigration was beautiful. Although spoken in his native language, Spanish, you could hear and appreciate the passion in his voice.
“In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a subculture without right to a voice in the public square, or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.” – Pope Francis, 9.26.2015
After Independence Hall, we walked around the city for a while before heading back towards City Line. That night we were able to see the celebrations for the Festival of Families on TV.
On Sunday, my mom and I once again biked into the city for mass. We met up with some cousins and aunts near 30th and continued into the city to find a security entrance. The lines were unbelievably long! As such, even though we had tickets to see the papal mass we never got inside the green zone to see it because the lines were too congested and because the security checkpoints let in too many ‘unticketed’ people.
Even though we didn’t get into the mass live, I was with family — and that’s what this whole weekend has been about to begin with!
While in line, I was following social media and was able to learn that Pope Francis visited SJU! WOW! Even though I couldn’t be there on campus all my friends and professors excitedly told me all about it last night and today. It’s such an amazing opportunity to have a pope visit a university. I think, but don’t quote me, that SJU is the second U.S. university to be visited by a pope (second only to Catholic University of America).
Later Sunday night was spent watching highlights and documentaries about popes. Even though Pope Francis was back on a plane to Italy, I still couldn’t get enough of him. Viva Papa Francisco!
This whole weekend still feels like an out of body experience. To think I saw the pope! Heard him speak! I, for one, can say that I will never forget these moments.
#PopeInPhilly #franciSJU #JesuitProud