Day 1 of Pope Francis' Pastoral Visit: "Share the Joy; Walk with Francis"
As I was walking through the Lobby of the Hotel Marriott where all the Bishops from across the country are gathering for the next couple days, I heard a young mother tell one of her friends that her 10-year-old daughter told her this morning that waiting for Pope Francis' arrival was as exciting as waiting for Christmas morning! I think there's a lot of truth to that statement, and not just for 10-year-olds; everyone here in Washington is excited and, as they say, "pumped" to know that in just a very brief time, Pope Francis' Pastoral Visit, which has the theme of "Share the Joy; Walk with Francis" is about to begin.
More and more Bishops are arriving, and they (including me) are very excited to very soon be with our Holy Father. It's like a "homecoming" when a family would wait for their father to return home after being away for a while, except that for our Holy Father, this is his very first visit to the United States.
I have now officially registered with all the Bishops and received my official name tag and bus assignment for the various trips tomorrow from the hotel to St. Matthew Cathedral; then from there to the St. John Paul II Center for lunch; then to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Canonization Mass; and then back to the Hotel for a nice dinner sponsored by the Knights of Malta. We also received a beautiful bronze medallion (see photo below)
as a keepsake of this historic occasion. It depicts on the front an image of Pope Francis, along with the symbols of the three cities he will visit: the Capital (Washington), the Statue of Liberty (New York City) and the Liberty Bell (Philadelphia) with the words: "Visit of Pope Francis to the United States, September 21-27, 2015'; on the back side the images of all the American canonized Saints, including newly-canonized Father Junipero Serra, under the loving gaze of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, with the words of Pope Francis: "I see the Church as a Field Hospital...Heal the Wounds".
So the excitement is at fever pitch----the "hour" is at hand, very much like Christmas Eve----as we wait for our Holy Father to come here to be with us----and to help us to be renewed in the beautiful gift of our faith, and to help our country to be renewed in our constitutional principles, especially the foundational principle of the protection of religious liberty.
God bless and protect Pope Francis!
In Christ our Hope----
+ Bishop Paul Bradley