The Catholic Review and the Archdiocese of Baltimore Office of Family Life are working on organizing a day-trip via bus to Philadelphia when Pope Francis celebrates an outdoor Mass Sunday, Sept. 27.
This trip won’t be an easy one. Details have not yet been announced. These things are likely:
- The Mass will be in the afternoon.
- There’s going to be a big crowd. A really big crowd.
- Anyone who wants to attend will likely have to walk a lot, and sit on the ground or stand for long periods. Expect a lot of waiting in lines – for bathrooms, for food, for getting into the area where the Mass will be held.
- Buses won’t be able to drop you off right next to the altar. Bus drop-off locations will likely be coordinated by the city to improve traffic flow; vehicles probably won’t be able to get too close to the site.
- Even if you’re there, you might not actually see Pope Francis. You may see him on a large video screen like the folks in the Philippines or Rio did.
- And while there likely will be some kind of controlled access, there may be tickets that guarantee seats or any particular location.
This was the scene from earlier this year: An aerial view shows pilgrims gathering to hear a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. The view shows only a portion of the Mass site, which a local church official said was more than a mile long. (CNS photo/Philippine Air Force/Handout via Reuters).
And yet, with all these concerns, a lot of people want to go to Philly. They want to be in the presence of the pope, the vicar of Christ on Earth. They want to hear his message. They want to be able to say, “I was there.”
I’ve had a chance to see Pope St. John Paul II at major events (and an intimate Mass in his private chapel in the Vatican). I saw Pope Benedict in Washington, D.C.; Rome; and Germany. Being in their presence was always amazing. I have not yet had the privilege of seeing Pope Francis in person.
In September, Pope Francis will visit Washington, where he will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, evangelist to the western U.S. mission areas. He will also speak to Congress. In New York, he will address the United Nations. In Philadelphia, he will join the World Meeting of Families and celebrate the big outdoor Mass.
We are in the early stages of planning a bus trip to be a part of the celebration of Mass in Philly. The buses would likely leave from a few designated pick-up spots very, VERY early in the morning and return late at night. No hotel accomodations would be needed (hard to get, anyway). You can sleep on the bus.
Are you interested in learning more? Click here to let us know you’re interested, and we will provide you with more details when the final schedule is announced.