Marywood students see Pope Francis’ visit in Philadelphia


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Pope Francis greets a young girl on his way down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before the Papal Mass in Philadelphia.

Amanda Duncklee, Community Editor

On Sun., Sept. 27, Marywood students went on a pilgrimage to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia.

Students who wished to attend purchased tickets for $15 two weeks beforehand and confirmed their attendance with Campus Ministries.

On the day of the event the group traveled via coach bus. The bus left at 7:30 a.m. and arrived in the Citizen’s Bank Park Parking lot at 10 a.m. Marywood students then walked for four miles to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a scenic park in Philadelphia which is where Pope Francis celebrated Mass.

Attendees underwent heavy security under TSA officials and police officers before entering the park. Once in the park, people lined up behind the barricades in place or sat on the grass to wait for the pope.

“I feel safe; there are lots of security measures in place,” said Anne Duncan, fourth year photography major.  “I’m excited to hear what the pope has to say and participate in this life changing experience.”

At 3:20 p.m., the pope started his papal parade. Crowds screamed with happiness upon seeing the pope in his white Pope mobile.

Along the way, Pope Francis smiled, waved and kissed several babies and toddlers. Once the procession was complete, Mass began at 4 p.m.

The Exultate Juste by Michael Joncas was the processional hymn for the mass. The crowd prayed the Act of Penitence, sang the Kyrie and Gloria and then offered a collective prayer.

Following the introductions, the first reading was read in Spanish, the second in Vietnamese, and the Gospel was sang in English.

Pope Francis delivered the homily which focused primarily on family values. He spoke of the importance of the nuclear family and the world family and how the miracle of love can change the world.

“It’s all about the family- teach the children, teach the children,” said Pope Francis.

Pope Francis also spoke of how all people are called to be prophets in the way that we should all spread the word of the Lord.

Following the homily, Mass continued. During the Lord’s Prayer and Sign of Peace, members of the crowd held hands, shook hands and hugged each other with love for Christ.

Crowd members received Communion from Extraordinary Ministers near the barricades. Mass concluded, and the crowd dispersed to their respective destinations.

Marywood students made their way on foot back to the bus. Sr. Cathy Luxner, IHM, Director of Campus Ministries, was very pleased with the day.

“Our students were wonderful,” said Luxner. “They were all here because they wanted to be. I think Marywood University is very proud of them; they put our core values into action.”

Throughout the walk to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, numerous other groups from all parts of the nation were in communion with this once-in-a-lifetime event. Groups played instruments, sang songs and cheered for others.

Attendee Virginia Garcia from Chicago came a long way to see Pope Francis.

“Of course I am very excited; I am so sad that I did not get to see him yesterday, but I hope to see him today,” said Garcia.

Also in attendance at the event were people holding signs promoting various agendas as well as yelling at attendees. Signs read “Roman Catholicism is sinful,” and “Is the Pope the Anti-Christ?”

Fr. Joseph Elston, who is starting his fourth year as the chaplain of Marywood, took note of the hecklers.

“You’re always going to have people come to these events pushing their agendas, and that is their right,” said Elston. “However, the Pope never pushes himself; he leads us to Jesus.”

Despite the hecklers, Fr. Elston was still very happy to see the pope.

“It is always a thrill for a priest to see a pope. His closeness to his priests is evident as he calls us to service, ” he said. “His love for women of the clergy is also evident.”

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