Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
We finally got the schedule of our Holy Father’s visit to the United States, we have published it opposite. It will be a time of excitement for our country, and for our area, as it seems he will be
I have received many inquiries from parishioners to see if parishes will be issued tickets to the Mass on the steps of the Shrine in D.C. and if there would be a drawing for tickets as happened when Pope Benedict was here last. The reality is, as I understand it, that the general public is welcome. There will be seats in the parking lot and the green alongside the shrine and the altar will be set up on the steps facing Catholic University campus, to accommodate about 15,000 people. There are many invited guests who will have priority for seating and no additional tickets will be issued.
I would not discourage your going, but would say simply that it will be a challenge. I haven’t decided yet if I will try to go, or not. There may be a slim chance that I might attend the interreligious service at the World Trade Center site in New York on Friday, but that is uncertain. If you are considering going, plan to take Metro. There is little parking on a good day, and that area of town is congested. People will probably need to arrive early for security purposes and bring what they need to be outside for hours.
Some folks have been looking into going to Philadelphia. I think that may be even more of a longshot. Hotel rooms have been sold out for a year. The crowds will be intense, the distances from the altar may make watching it on TV at home more satisfying. I was speaking with a family in Bucks County who are hosting a family from Nebraska at their home…Bucks County is not near Philadelphia.
Apparently it is the intention of the Holy Father to keep Philadelphia and the synod on the family as the main event, and his meetings with world leaders and U.S. bishops, and the canonization Mass here in D.C. as his principal other activities.
I will tell you that it was exciting to meet him a couple of weeks ago. He had only a little to say, but it was simple and powerful. You can see the Vatican video about our audience at www.romereports.com/pg161925-pope-francis-meetswith-buddhist-leaders-oethese-small-gesturesare-seeds-of-peace-en. It is hard to believe now that I was even there, I try to imagine how he does it all and still remains so holy, so authentic. He is a very special man and that is why so many are so interested in seeing him. This is our chance, when he is here.
This week we will be going to South Africa to visit the missions of our Oblate Sisters of Saint Francis DeSales. My letter next week will come to you from there, hopefully. Say a prayer for us on the trip, if you will.
Next weekend while I’m out of the country we will welcome two priests who travel and promote missions in 21 countries for children and elderly people. Fr. Thomas Malloy (an Oblate of Saint Francis DeSales priest) and Fr.Jerry Hackenmueller will preach at all the Masses about the missions and an organization that supports them, “Unbound.” You will find a pullout page inside the front cover of the bulletin next week about their work, you can also find more about them at www.unbound.org.
God bless you.