People of faith from throughout the Davenport Diocese are traveling this week to Washington, D.C., New York City or Philadelphia — the three destinations on Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States. We wish them Godspeed.
Today, Sept. 24, the Holy Father is expected to address a joint session of the United States Congress, the first such address by a pope. Our own Bishop Martin Amos and Kent Ferris, director of Social Action and Catholic Charities for the Davenport Diocese, will be in Washington, D.C., for that historic address. Others from our diocese may have obtained a ticket to attend the outdoor simulcast of Pope Francis’ address to Congress. Let’s pray it doesn’t rain!
We’ll also be well represented in Philadelphia, where the World Meeting of Families is taking place and which provided the impetus for Pope Francis’ U.S. visit. Diocesan representatives include Marianne Agnoli, coordinator of Marriage and Family Life and Lay Ministry Formation; Beth Blough, auditor of the Tribunal; Miguel Moreno, coordinator of Multicultural Ministry; Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president and CEO of St. Ambrose University, Davenport, and Tom Prior, Campus Ministry Graduate Assistant at St. Ambrose; Laurie Harris, executive director of the Newman Catholic Student Center, University of Iowa; Mike Bayer, the Newman Center’s director of Outreach and Education; and Julie Agne, director of religious education, St. Mary Parish-Solon. Check our website (www.catholicmessenger.net) and Facebook page for reports from some of our pilgrims.
Moreno is coordinating a red-eye bus trip, taking approximately 60 people from several dioceses to Philadelphia for the papal Mass that closes the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 27 at Benjamin Franklin Parkway. They’ll leave late Sept. 25 and head back home immediately after Mass concludes on Sept. 27. Many on this bus speak Spanish, the native tongue of Pope Francis. We hope the Holy Spirit sustains their energy!
We know that other Catholics and non-Catholics will be journeying to see the pope as well. A bus from Des Moines was expected to stop in the parking lot of the Davenport Diocese’s headquarters in Davenport the morning of Sept. 23 to pick up passengers.
All of these folks are sacrificing time — and in some cases, sleep — to celebrate their faith with the chief pastor of our universal Catholic Church and with one another. Few have any illusions they’ll get close enough to even snap a photo of the Holy Father. To simply be in the presence of this charismatic leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics fills them with joy.
Those of us who remain behind in the Davenport Diocese will keep these pilgrims and Pope Francis in our prayers. We pray that our United States will embrace the message of the Holy Father, who insists that we reach out to the least among us to ensure that their needs are met and that they have the opportunity to flourish. We pray for fruitful discussions between Pope Francis and President Barack Obama on common-ground issues such as care for creation, justice for immigrants and inclusion of people on the margins. We pray that the Holy Father will inspire the United Nations to take a true leadership role in dealing with the migration crisis that impacts the entire world.
We pray that Pope Francis fills the prisoners he visits with a sense of mercy; that he brings hope to people living in poverty and to others on the margins in society. We pray that he will encourage U.S. bishops and members of his and other religious communities in their ministries.
We pray he’ll inspire a sense of community, of connectedness in a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. We’ll pray for the Holy Spirit to infuse Pope Francis with the energy he will need to meet his demanding schedule.
And we’ll give thanks to God for blessing us with a pope who sets an example for us, who walks the talk — who inspires pilgrims from throughout the United States to accompany him for at least a short time on this journey.