| Diocese arranging group for World Meeting of Families
Space remains available to join a group of pilgrims from the Diocese of Oakland who will journey to Philadelphia to participate in the World Meeting of Families, and to see Pope Francis on his first visit to the United States, in September.
This also marks the first time the World Meeting of Families, which was first convened in Rome in 1994, will be held in the United States.
The department of Faith Formation and Evangelization has arranged the pilgrimage through Canterbury Tours, which will bring pilgrims to Philadelphia from several dioceses across the country.
The Oakland pilgrims' itinerary calls for three days of participation in World Meeting of Families events, as well as time to visit shrines in Philadelphia. A guided tour of historic sites in Philadelphia is also planned.
They also hope to have a chance to see Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, who will participate in the World Meeting of Families, but will not be part of the diocesan pilgrimage.
Among the highlights for the pilgrims, no doubt, will be the welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis and the Festival of Families on Sept. 26, and the papal Mass the following day. Both events will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
"I'm extremely excited to be involved," said Mary Ann Wiesinger, associate director of Faith Formation and Evangelization for the diocese. "This is one of those rare experiences; we are going to have the Holy Father come to the United States," she said. "This is our chance to spend time with him."
Special, too, she said, is the opportunity "to spend time thinking about the important role of the family."
She noted that the conference will feature top-name speakers, including Very Rev. Robert Barron.
For Wiesinger, it will be "the first time to see a Holy Father on our nation's soil." Noting that popes have something specific to say to the nations they visit, she eagerly anticipates Pope Francis' message. "Hearing the words," she said. "There's nothing like it."
She heard Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002. "I still remember his words echoing in me: salt and light, not being afraid …"
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