Sunday, October 04, 2015

What We Saw in Philadelphia—Part I

Gina and I were privileged to go on pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia with a group from our diocese. Our bishop was slated to go with us, but as it turned out, he was required to be in Washington D.C. with the USCCB when Pope Francis arrived. We (meaning some people from our group, but not us personally) didn't see him until the last day of the conference.

We were blessed to be hosted by St. Cornelius Parish in Chadds Ford, PA. These families generously opened their homes for us and made sure that we all got to and from the parish every morning and evening while we were there. Our hosts actually gave us the use of one of their vehicles to get to and from the parish every day.

Our first day was actually day three of the conference. The first keynote was given a by a couple and translated from Spanish. We walked in in the middle of this session, so I didn't really have the whole picture of what they were presenting. However, they were followed by Scott Hahn, who as always, did a great job.

I was somewhat conflicted because Dr. Janet Smith was also presenting. Robert George also had the same time slot.

The keynote session after lunch was led by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle from the Philippines.

That smile pretty much sums this man up. He was very charismatic and funny. This man could be pope someday.

Following his talk, we went to listen to Rose Sweet, who spoke on ministering to divorced Catholics. She had a tough gig, and she did a good job of dealing with it. There was one man whose wife left him and divorced him when he was 19 and then blocked his attempts at annulment. When people talk about the need for reform, this man's case was a good example. I don't know what diocese he's from, but either they are extraordinarily rigid in their process, or he simply has a poor advocate. Or perhaps he wasn't telling the whole story.

We had a chance to look around the exhibition hall, met Dr. Greg Popcak, and ran into a couple that used to attend our parish but relocated to D.C. They were selling bible-themed toys.

We had to make our way back to the bus by then, and we herded the other members of our group to the loading zone. As we drove back to St. Cornelius, we learned that the secret service went into the exhibition hall at 5:00 and gave all exhibitors 10 minutes to pack up and leave, shutting them down a full day early. There were a number of instances suggesting that the conditions on the ground were changing daily.

The keynote on the next day was delivered by Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Pastor Rick Warren. They were great as well, and Pastor Warren is sounding more and more Catholic all the time. I would not be surprised if he crosses the Tiber soon.

We saw Archbishop Chaput briefly when he introduced Cdnl. O'Malley and Warren. Chaput is one of the hierarchy that I greatly admire and have since he was in Denver. It takes someone like him to pull off something as large as a papal visit.

The final session we attended was Simcha Fisher. I find it interesting how different people can be from the personas that come across in their writing. we struck me most about Simcha was how, nervous and raw she was, and she was evocative and poetic. Some her best writing for the Register captures that.

Her husband Damien roamed around the room carrying their youngest. I also managed to catch Tom McDonald doing his job.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Verbum Domini exhibit (which I loved, of course). After we left the conference, we had some more adventures, but those will have to wait for part II.
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