Memories of a “Popeful” Week in Philadelphia

Terri Pauco, Niagara Catholic’s Religion and Family Life Consultant, was part of a group of Niagara Catholic staff and parents who travelled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 22-25 to take part in the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit. We are grateful that Terri took time out of her very busy schedule to share this with us, and thank our NCPIC Chair Shonna Daly for the photos she provided during the week. 

“I was blessed to have been included as one of the members of the Niagara Catholic/Diocese of St. Catharines delegation that recently participated in the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit in Philadelphia. To be among the 20,000-plus Congress participants – praying, listening, watching, sharing – I saw first-hand that the Catholic Church has one creed, but is so rich and diverse in its membership. Interacting with people who oozed discipleship from all around the world called together to reflect on family life today, I was able to reaffirm my belief in the importance of the ‘domestic church’ as the first place where Christ’s teachings of love, forgiveness, charity and respect are taught. Every keynote speaker was inspiring; among my favourites were Bishop Barron (from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of www.wordonfire.com ) and Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines, who reminded me that in both the beauty and the brokenness of family life,  the Church has unique opportunities to minister to families in ways that will both evangelize and teach the Truth that is often lost in a world that rejects religion, gospel values and the call to serve. The Spirit was palpable in every child, teenager, mother, father, grandparent, catechist, religious sister, deacon and priest gathered.

By the time Pope Francis arrived on Saturday, the entire city was ready to be ‘popified’. Our determined group, stationed along Broad Street in front of City Hall, settled down to wait along the parade route for a mere glimpse of Pope Francis. From my spot in front of the Jumbotron, I listened to Pope Francis’ homily and to his address at Liberty Square, and was captivated by his smile and kindness. Then finally, after 10 hours, Pope Francis sped by in his Popemobile on his way to the Festival of Families concert.  Was it worth it? TOTALLY! In his humility, his witness of faith and loving presence, I reclaimed my vocation as a Catholic Educator and parishioner willing to fight for all families because I really understand that ‘Love is our Mission.’

And in case you were wondering, I did enjoy a deliciously messy Philly Steak ‘wit’!

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