Locals excited to go to see Pope Francis Print this post

More than 75heading north for historic visit

By Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)



As individuals, pairs or groups, many people are north this week in hopes of seeing Pope Francis during the historic Apostolic Visit to the United States.

For Drs. Hugh and Karen Liebert, of Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton, the trip to see the Holy Father was a Christmas present from their four children. The couple will be attending the World Meeting on Families in Philadelphia and are hopeful to see Pope Francis.

“It’s really fantastic to be going,” Dr. Karen Liebert said. “We are going to see the Holy Father up close, but we are also going to be a part of the World Meeting on Families. Amazing!”

The meeting in Philadelphia includes a number a keynote speakers and break-out sessions, too many to choose from, Liebert explained. “We have to decide who we are going to see. Everything is going to be so wonderful. We also signed up to participate in the Eucharistic Adoration as well. So special to have this opportunity.”

While in Philadelphia, the Lieberts, who are very Pro-Life, have been invited to visit a local pregnancy center.

One unusual thing she will be taking with her to Philadelphia is a bobble-head of Pope Francis, something a friend hopes to have blessed by the Holy Father and it will be a Christmas gift, appropriate as this trip was a gift for the Lieberts.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will be attending the World Meeting of Families as well, although he will be late to the meeting as he is attending events with Pope Francis in Washington, D.C. This includes a meeting and midday prayer with Pope Francis at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral with the other arch/bishops of the United States.

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“It is always a special blessing and honor to have the opportunity to be in the presence of the Holy Father,” Bishop Dewane said. “This will be no different. It will be wonderful to be there and to see the joy of people who are in the presence of such an inspirational and truly holy man.”

Also representing the Diocese of Venice during the Apostolic Visit will be Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc., CEO Peter Routsis-Arroyo. He has been invited by the Catholic Charities USA to attend the canonization Mass of Blessed Junipero Serra on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the University Mall at The Catholic University of America. He is unclear about what other event he was expected to attend.

Notified about his invitation a few week prior, Routsis-Arroyo said it was a unique honor to be asked to attend. “I don’t know how close I will be, but that really doesn’t matter. Just being there is plenty good enough for me.”

One parish in Naples also decided to send an entire group to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

Father John Ludden, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, explained that when he heard where the meeting was going to be he knew it would be an opportunity to educate the faithful about the work of the Holy See in a very particular and meaningful way. There are 38 parishioners attending the meeting, but they will be tasked with sharing their experiences once they return with the rest of the Parish and beyond.

The theme of the World Meeting of Families is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on our society.

“I want our group to carry that message to others,” Father Ludden said. “We are blessed to be going and we must share the lessons and joy of our faith with others.”

Deacon Harry Antrim, of St. Patrick Parish is Sarasota, is from Philadelphia and has been asked to help at a number of events there including the Festival of Families, a Mass at the Cathedral with Pope Francis and then for the closing Mass, where he is designated to help distribute Holy Communion to the crowd.

“This is an exciting opportunity to be in the presence of such a wonderful and holy man,” Deacon Antrim said. “To be selected to be there for the Mass for all the priests, deacons and religious of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is special as well. Then to help distribute Communion at the big Mass on the Parkway is something I know I will never forget. Having that connection to Pope Francis, even in an indirect way is going to be powerful.”

Lois Leggerie, a member of the choir at St Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, is going home to Philadelphia. All of her children live there and many friends do as well.

A life-long member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish there, Leggerie connected with a friend who was able to get a bus ride and tickets to the closing Mass through a different parish. “We will be very close to Pope Francis for the Mass. How exciting is that?!”

She recalled the visit of St. John Paul II to Philadelphia in 1979 and went to the Mass and the Holy Father looked at her. “It felt like he stared at me and made a connection. Who knows? Maybe that will happen again this time. I’m praying it does, but its okay if it doesn’t. Just to be there is good enough for me.”

These and other faithful will be involved in the historic Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis to the United States. Please pray for each of those traveling great distances to be there and for the Holy Father during his time here.

Check back in the next Florida Catholic for an update what every did and saw when Pope Francis came to America.


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