On September 27th, three buses full of Mount students, faculty, and staff traveled to Philadelphia to join in with Pope Francis’ final mass on his apostolic journey. This was the first time that Pope Francis has visited the United States since his election as Pope, thus the excitement and anticipation was high for those who made the decision to make the pilgrimage to celebrate mass with him.
Students arrived at Patriot Hall at 5:20 on Sunday morning, where they were given matching bandanas, maps, and last minute tips and instructions on how to make the day a successful one.
When the busses reached the city, the pilgrims began a three to four mile trek across the city to reach security and be allowed into the mass. Unfortunately, security was not as well-planned as it was expected to be, and they were left standing in line for nearly five hours with tens of thousands of other pilgrims who traveled from all over to catch a glimpse of the leader of the Church. However, in line, some were able to see as the Pope waved from the Pope-mobile in the Papal Parade. Father Brian Nolan also led a rosary that many of the Mount pilgrims prayed, as well as surrounding pilgrims from all over.
The first Mountaineers who made it through security were able to hear the end of Pope Francis’ homily, which was given in Spanish. Other Mounties made it through in time to receive communion, which was consecrated by the Pontiff himself. Others made it through after that, and sadly, some were not let in at all.
Although they were inclined to be disappointed that the day did not go as expected, spirits were high and those who were able to be at the mass for a time fully participated.
During the consecration, pilgrims could be found kneeling on the rough, cobblestone ground. Everyone was sure to sing the mass parts, even those which weren’t in English, and songs at various parts of the mass.
At the end of the mass, the Holy Father smiled and thanked everyone who had made the day possible. He assured the faithful that he is praying for them, and asked them to do the same for him: “I ask you to pray for me. Don’t forget.”
Although the day went quite differently than planned, pilgrims know that it was a great grace to have even been in the same city as the Holy Father, and have been looking on the bright side of the messy day. Students are inspired by the man who loves them and encourages them to live their faith.