As I mentioned, I’m in Philly this weekend attending the papal events and documenting them as a Digital Diplomat/ Social Media Media Volunteer for the World Meeting of Families. Here’s a diary of my trip so far.
Getting to Philly
Friday, September 25, I took a late Amtrak train to Philadelphia. Late ended up being a literal term as the train pulled in a half hour late. Then it was supposed to arrive in Philly at 12:08 pm but it had a little engine that couldn’t. The train broke down at the Baltimore station. I almost had to wait an additional 45 minutes for another train to arrive to pick me, my traveling companion and other passengers up.
But train operators were able to get it moving again and we were Philly bound once more. I finally arrived at 1:30p.m. This photo says it all as to how excited and relieved me and Rozlin Broome from Christ the King were to make it.
So Much For Independence Mall
I was lucky enough to score an online ticket to Pope Francis’ speech at the Independence Mall. But my late arrival to the city and slight hike from my hotel to the speech venue worked against me. As soon as I walked up to the venue entrance, the gatekeeper shut it down to new entrants because Pope Francis was now on his way. (Bummer!)
I had to sprint to find a jumbotron to stand nearby to watch from. I was certainly disappointed not to get into Independence Mall. But I was touched to see the many people standing and sitting in front of jumbotrons waiting to hear Pope Francis speak.
Lou, a fellow hotel guest from New Jersey, WAS at Independence Mall and was kind enough to share this photo of our cool pontiff driving by in the Popemobile.
A Trip of a Lifetime
After clearing a security checkpoint, I made my way onto the Ben Franklin Parkway where the Festival of Families concert and presentation for the Pope was taking place. Among the throngs of people I met there – Marlene Clerjuste of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Clerjuste sums up in this video what seeing a Pope, (particularly Pope Francis) means to her. He is a source of pride for us and an amazing ambassador of the faith.
Many people think that Catholics are going down, she said, but we’re coming up!
Philly Vendors Welcome Pope Francis
Everywhere I walked I noticed vendor signs welcoming Pope Francis. They appeared on banners in hotel lobbies, buttons on hotel workers, store windows and more. People sold t-shirts and Vatican flags There is even official Pope Francis chocolate! Here are few images of them: