IMG_1812

John Flynn//The Crown Pope Francis greeted the audience attending the Papal Mass in Philadelphia, which included students from King’s and Stone Hill College.
John Flynn//The Crown
Pope Francis greeted the audience attending the Papal Mass in Philadelphia, which included students from King’s and Stone Hill College.

It was the event of a lifetime.

Thirty-nine King’s College students, including myself, along with 10 students from Stonehill College travelled together to Philadelphia to celebrate Mass with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

The Holy Father announced last November that he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and would say a Mass that Sunday.

The night before, we gathered together in the Moreau Auditorium to talk about the trip’s “nuts and bolts” and reflected on where God is in our lives and considered all of the blessings He has placed upon us.

Then, in group discussions, we evaluated what our expectations were as young adults who hoped to have families in the future, since the Pope celebrates family life and what it means to be Roman Catholics.

It was there, in the Moreau Auditorium, that we learned we were standing right in the middle of Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia between the two roads the next day. This would allow us to have great views of the jumbo-trons that the city had set up with anticipation of the Papal Mass.

We left campus at 6:00 a.m. and arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies, at 8:30 a.m. Once we arrived, we had to embark on a four-mile walk from the ballpark to Benjamin Franklin Parkway where the Holy Father led over a million Catholics in Sunday Mass.

Before Mass, the Pope paraded around the parkway to greet his audience in what was considered a moment of a lifetime for some students.

Senior Angela Coco and first-year Natalie Coffee agreed that “it was a once in a lifetime moment.”

Fr. Pinto Paul, C.S.C., from Stonehill College, Fr. Chase Pepper, C.S.C., and Fr. Eric Schimmel, C.S.C., all got to celebrate Mass with the Pope. Fr. Pinto said “it was a dream come true to celebrate Mass with the Holy Father.” Meanwhile, Fr. Thomas Looney, C.S.C. accompanied the students on the parkway.

It was at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia during the Pope’s homily that he talked about the Roman Catholic significance of the house and of the family. The Holy Father stressed how important family and love is.

After Mass Fr. Eric interpreted the Pope’s homily by explaining that the Pope is raising a tough question, “Is the world full of blame or the world full of love?”

It was based on the reading selections of the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which was The Old Testament passage from the Book of Numbers about people blaming each other through certain prophesies. We also thought this address was a less of a “direct action address,” since he addressed Congress earlier in his visit to Washington, D.C. on the current hot topics in American politics.

It was a magical day for the King’s Papal Pilgrimage. We got a glimpse of poise, determination and class from the Holy Father like we have never seen before.