University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I Jenkins, C.S.C., and some 500 of the University’s students, faculty and staff will join in welcoming Pope Francis to the United States on his first visit here Sept. 22-27.
“The arrival of Pope Francis on his first visit to the United States is a moment of real grace for our Church and for our country,” Father Jenkins said. “Notre Dame is proud to be part the enthusiastic welcome that America has in store.”
Father Jenkins will be at a welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis at the White House on Sept. 23 (Wednesday). Later that day, when Pope Francis presides at the Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Father Jenkins, along with Notre Dame Vice President for Mission Engagement and Church Affairs Rev. William Lies, C.S.C., will be among his concelebrants. On the following morning, Sept. 24 (Thursday), Father Jenkins will be a guest for the Pope’s address to a joint session of Congress.
Church and city authorities expect 1.5 million to 2 million to join Pope Francis for an outdoor Mass on Sept. 27 (Sunday) on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia at the conclusion of the 2015 World Meeting of Families, and members of Notre Dame’s Papal Visit Pilgrimage expect to be among them.
Sponsored by the Notre Dame’s Office of Campus Ministry, the Office of the Vice President for Mission Engagement and Church Affairs, the Center for Ethics and Culture and the Institute for Church Life, the pilgrimage registration soon overflowed the seats available on the nine buses that will take the pilgrims from Notre Dame to Philadelphia, leaving the campus on Sept. 26 (Saturday) and returning on Sept. 28 (Monday). The scarcity of lodging in a city that has been overwhelmed by the papal visit will oblige the Notre Dame pilgrims to sleep on the buses, but as Kate Morgan, one of the pilgrimage organizers, says, “Pope Francis is worth it!”
One of the pilgrims, Rev. Peter McCormick, C.S.C., director of campus ministry, agrees.
“The Papal Visit Pilgrimage will provide Notre Dame students with an opportunity to experience the Catholic Church as something much bigger than what we encounter on campus,” Father McCormick said. “Gathering to pray with over 1 million people will be something that all of us will remember as we carry the faith back to our local communities.”
“I couldn’t be happier that such a large contingent of our students will travel to Philadelphia to pray with Pope Francis,” said Father Lies. “Our students are the ‘Pope Francis Generation,’ and the Holy Father’s call to love, mercy and service will echo throughout their lives.”