By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Being in Philadelphia to experience the pope’s presence “was amazing,” said Bertie Lopez of Iowa City.
She rode on a bus from Davenport that included people from the dioceses of Davenport and Des Moines, Iowa; and Kansas City-St. Joseph and Jefferson City, Missouri.
On Saturday afternoon they arrived at Neumann University in Pennsylvania. “They were warm and friendly,” she said of the people there.
“They told us that it would be nearly impossible to get to where the pope was that night. A group risked it and it paid off. They were able to see him.” For those who did not go, like Lopez, they watched the World Meeting of Families Prayer Vigil on TV at the university.
On Sunday they joined “the millions for Mass” on Ben Franklin Parkway to conclude the World Meeting of Families. While standing in the long, slow lines, Lopez said, “It was beautiful that there were so many people from different churches and ethnic groups in one place sharing the same purpose — to see our spiritual leader.”
When “I finally laid eyes on him for only a few seconds, it was indescribable. It was an overwhelming feeling of emotions.” Lopez noted that she and others received Communion from hosts consecrated earlier in the morning by the pope.
The pope spoke on the importance of family and guiding children. She noted it was hard to hear him from where she was, but the whole experience made her feel grateful.
Eliana de Santiago and her parents, Patricia and Juan, all of St. Mary Parish in Davenport, also traveled to see the pope.
“There were lines everywhere,” Eliana said. “We were within five feet of the pope in his popemobile.” That was a highlight of the trip. “I loved how he spoke more than one language. He is very humble, genuine and peaceful.”
Juan said he was impressed with the number of youths not just on the bus but in Philadelphia. There is much hope for the church with the young there, he said.
Many people, however, were unable to get in. “But they stayed even when we left the area at 6:30 p.m. They were such faithful people.”
“This was a great expression of our faith.”