Best Place to See Pope Francis: Philadelphia
By Burt Carey
Pope Francis will visit three cities during his stay in the United States later this month, but the only opportunity for most people to see him will be in Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27.
The Papal visit will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for most Philadelphians and other Americans. Pope Francis will be taking part in the World Meeting of Families in the City of Brotherly Love. It’s a festival that will take place on Benjamin Franklin Parkway Sept. 26, when an estimated 1 million people will be on hand. The following day, the Pontiff will celebrate Mass at the same location, and 2 million people are expected to be there.
The Pope arrives in the U.S. on Sept. 22, flying to Joint Base Andrews from Cuba. President Obama will meet with the Holy See at the White House Sept. 23, followed by midday prayer with bishops of the U.S. at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington D.C. Later in the day, the Pope will hold a Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra at the Bassilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Pope Francis will address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on the morning of Sept. 24 before a visit to the St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. From there he flies to New York for evening prayer (vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On Friday, Sept. 25, the Pope will address the United Nations General Assembly, hold a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. That evening he will hold Mass at Madison Square Garden.
All of those events are closed to the general public. What tickets are available have been distributed through local dioceses. Bottom line: Unless you’re a regular attendee, these Catholic services are reserved for Catholics.
When he arrives in Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 26, the Pope will hold Mass at Cathedral Bassilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, and then visit Independence Mall. He arrives at the Festival of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway about 7:30 p.m.
The Mass at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families will begin at 4 p.m.
If you’re traveling to Philadelphia to see the Pope, you’ll want to be organized and have a plan. The World Meeting of Families has a Papal Visit Playbook you can access online: http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/papal-visit-playbook-homepage/. Within the playbook are the do’s and don’ts during the Pope’s visit, from a transportation overview, to pedestrian maps and walking routes, to special dining and event offerings.
Download the “Go Philadelphia!” mobile app and draft a schedule of programs and events you want to attend so your friends and family can plan transportation and travel arrangements in advance. The mobile app will push details about directions and locations of events, family-friendly programs, cultural institutions, and more, to your phone for easy accessibility.
If you or someone you know are traveling by chartered bus, motor coaches, school buses, mini buses, RVs and commercial passenger vans, all buses must be registered at wmof.goground.com. All commercial operators will need to register as unregistered buses will not be allowed to access many roads and reserved bus parking during the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 26 – Sunday, Sept. 27.
With as many as 150 nations represented, the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 will bring together generations, different cultures and various socio-economic groups as well as families from multiple faith traditions. Whether Catholic or of another faith tradition, all will join together to reaffirm the family’s importance as the cornerstone of our global society.
Sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family and the host diocese, each World Meeting has its own unique theme. The theme for Philadelphia is “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 is a six-day international event and celebration that draws participants from around the globe
The Congress – scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 22 through Friday, Sept. 25 – will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and is designed to provide participants with the opportunity to participate in cross-cultural dialogue and prayers during daily Mass, devotions and breakout sessions.