A pilgrimage to Philadelphia in some Catholics' plans
If you are among the U.S. Catholics who would like to get a glimpse of Pope Francis in Philadelphia in September, join the crowd.
Pope Francis is coming to the United States to attend the World Meeting of Families, which will run Sept. 22-27.
"I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., said last fall after the pope's intention to visit the United States was announced. "We look forward to Pope Francis' arrival in Philadelphia next September and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts."
The World Meeting of Families, established by St. John Paul II in 1994, is held every three years. It is the world's largest gathering of Catholic families. The theme for the 2015 edition, the first to be convened in the United States, is "Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive."
While the pope's schedule is not yet fixed, organizers expect him to visit Philadelphia Sept. 25-27, to participate in the closing events, including the Festival of Families, scheduled for Sept. 26, a Papal Mass to be celebrated the following day on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love.
A delegation from the Diocese of Oakland is expected to make the pilgrimage. Mimi Streett, coordinator of marriage and family life, will be leading a delegation. Her enthusiasm is infectious.
"What's special about this pilgrimage? What isn't?!" Streett said. "Pope Francis is coming to America before the 2015 Synod on the Family to be with families and to show his concern for them."
And that's not all.
"From Philadelphia, Pope Francis travels to Washington, DC, to canonize California's own Junipero Serra," she said.
The pope is planning to canonize Father Serra, founder of the California missions. Details of the canonization rite, which is expected to take place at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, are not available.
It has been said, however, that seating in the basilica will be limited to clergy.
Streett will be leading a pilgrimage through Tripod Vacations of San Leandro. The pilgrimage, from Sept. 22-28, will include the Festival of Families and the Papal Mass, as well as visits to national shrines in the Philadelphia area.
Among the national shrines in Philadelphia are those of St. Katharine Drexel, St. John Neumann, St. Rita of Cascia and St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
The pilgrimage, said Christine Tripod, whose company is organizing it, offers the opportunity to "be part of history."
The pilgrimage includes airfare from San Francisco, hotel, grand transportation and meals. The cost is $2,475 per person, based on double occupancy. Information and reservations are available at email@example.com or by calling Tripod at 510-276-6516.
For those who might like to join Pennsylvania pilgrims, Belinda Lewis Held is offering the opportunity for people from the Diocese of Oakland to join with pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, Diocese of Erie or the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
Lewis, who arranged pilgrimages to Rome for the canonizations of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII last year, has a variety of tour packages available, from $2,000 to $1,000, ranging from weeklong stays at hotels within walking distance of the festivities, and admission to the papal events, to weekend-only pilgrimages. She also has available a package for youths who are chaperoned, priced at $550.
She is also prepared to offer pilgrimages to Washington, DC, once the pope's schedule is announced.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-679-7450.
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