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Prepping for the Papal Visit

Pope Francis will visit the United States, September 22 – 27, with stops in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

In addition to attending the World Meeting of the Families, Pope Francis will meet President Barack Obama at the White House and address a joint session of Congress, visit the United Nations, attend a multireligious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, attend mass at a variety of churches and cathedrals, and attend a mass at Madison Square Garden. He will also speak at Independence Hall and visit a correctional facility, before returning to Rome.

If your groups will be in an area on Pope Francis' itinerary, what can you expect? The Catholic News Service published the following tips, based on the Pope's visit to South America in July:

  • Pope Francis loves a crowd. He walks into events with little expression on his face, then lights up when he starts greeting, blessing, kissing, and hugging people. Persons with disabilities, the sick, and squirming babies come first.
  • The pope does not mind being embraced, but he does not like people running at him. As a nun in Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in La Paz rushed toward Pope Francis during his July 8 visit, the pope backed up and used both hands to gesture her to calm down and step back. In the end, she did get a blessing from him, though.
  • At mass, Pope Francis tends to be less animated. At large public masses on papal trips, he sticks to the text of his prepared homilies, although he may look up and repeat phrases for emphasis.
  • Pope Francis has said he needs a 40-minute rest after lunch, and his official schedule always includes at least an hour of down time.
  • Pope Francis' speeches in general—whether to presidents, civic and business leaders, young people, or even, for example, the prisoners in Bolivia—acknowledge what is going well and being done right, then seeks to build on that. It's a combination of a pat on the back and a nudge forward.

A few fun facts about Pope Frances to entertain your travelers: He speaks Spanish, Italian, English, French, and German; cooks his own meals; is known to use public transportation; and loves soccer and the tango!

For more information about the papal visit, click here.

Photo courtesy of Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons.


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