By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Peace. That is what Patricia and Eliana de Santiago hope Pope Francis will talk about during his homily in Philadelphia Sept. 27.
The mother and daughter, members of St. Mary Parish in Davenport, are riding on a bus to Philadelphia along with about 60 others from the Midwest. Their trip is with the Diocese of Davenport’s Multicultural Ministry Office.
Patricia, who spoke with The Catholic Messenger (her daughter served as translator), said she is very Catholic and “always wanted to meet or see the pope. I wanted to see Pope John Paul II, but I never did. I really want to see Pope Francis and am excited. He is very humble and a genuine man.”
Eliana thinks it will be a blessing to see the pope and she looks forward to telling people about her trip.
When it was announced that Pope Francis was coming to the United States, Eliana said she and her mother decided to travel to see him. But when Eliana began researching the cost for hotels online, she was shocked. “We couldn’t afford it.” She made some inquiries to see whether any groups were going to Philadelphia. She learned that Miguel Moreno, coordinator of Multicultural Ministry for the Diocese of Davenport, was arranging a short trip.
Moreno said the bus has a mix of people from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri; Jefferson City, Missouri; the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, and the Diocese of Davenport. The bus will stop in Davenport.
The bus leaves Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. and as soon as the Mass finishes on the 27th, they head back home. On the night of Sept. 26 the pilgrims will sleep at Neumann University in Ashton, Pennsylvania.
They plan to leave the university around 10 a.m. to head to the Mass site — which is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Mass begins at 4 p.m. and is expected to be done by 7 p.m.
Moreno hopes the pope will address the issues of immigration, the election and salvation.
Bertie Lopez of Iowa City also is traveling with the group. She said this is her chance to catch a glimpse of the pope, the successor to St. Peter. “He is our holy father whom God has chosen for us.”
Lopez feels the pope is a great guide and it will be an honor to see him with her own eyes.
Eliana said she realizes the group may have to watch the Mass on a screen from a distance or from another site because of the crowds. But she is OK with that. “I just want to be there.” She is a little anxious about crowds, but excited and wants to enjoy the moment.
Patricia said she hopes that in addition to peace the pope will talk about loving one another and to not discriminate against others.
“I am very thankful and excited and hope for the best. I have friends who met Pope John Paul II and had a beautiful experience. I hope to have that same experience,” Patricia said.