The Pope will arrive in Philadelphia next year, and Malvern Prep is sure to find a way of welcoming him.
It was only half a year ago that some Malvern teachers were made aware of the possibility of the Bishop of Rome’s long awaited return.
Some, such as Mr. Boyce, believed that “…many buses should [be sent down] at a minimum” on the days that he’s here. Although it turns out that the Pope will be visiting on a weekend, travelling to Philly from our campus is not entirely out of the question.
Pope Francis will be visiting Philadelphia for three days of the six-day World Meeting of Families this September. According to Philly.com, the Pope will attend the Festival of Families on September 26 and give a public Mass on September 27.
The last time the Pope was in Philadelphia was in 1979, which was also the first time Pope Saint John Paul II visited the United States. According to an article written in the same year, archived on Philly.com, “The Pope proved, as he had in Boston and New York, that he is a charmer and crowd pleaser of the first magnitude”. Crowds of both Catholics and non-Catholics ranged from 1.2 – 2 million.
Current Philadelphia officials are estimating an even higher number of visitors.
According to Fr. Drennan, the meetings began when the first announcement of the Pope’s visit was made. In an Education Advancement Team meeting, Assistant Head of School Mr. Steve Valyo asked Fr. Drennen to start work on adjusting the schedule for Malvern to participate.
One major problem was that the Pope’s visit was taking place during the weekend when MECO normally falls in September. There will be keynote presentations during the week before the Pope’s visit, with one of them being targeted at Malvern’s student age group.
“I think we’ve worked it out that we won’t have a conflict, so it means moving everything we’ve planned for the year so that people are available if they want to go,” said Drennen.
According to Director of Christian Service Mr. Larry Legner, the Christian Service and MECO schedule has been moved two weeks further into the school calendar than the normal September start. The revised dates for Christian Service and MECO weekends for the fall are October 8-11, November 19-22, and December 3-6.
Besides Malvernians potentially being interested in seeing the Pope, the weekend has been moved due to likely busing and crowding issues, especially with sophomores going to Old St. Augustines. It was also moved two weeks ahead because of SATs the week after the Pope’s visit, according to Legner.
Fr. Drennan pointed out that many of the activities are being coordinated through parishes. “Whether people will want to participate and do it with their parishes, since we have people from all over, we figured it was a good thing to be connected with your parish for that,” he said.
According to Drennen, there won’t be any days off during the week, but what happens during on campus of the visit will be adjusted to allow Malvernians to visit the Pope with their Augustinian brothers. So far, taking the train seems to be preferable to riding buses.
Mr. Ruch also attended the Education Advancement Team meetings.
What will happen to Malvern’s weekend sports activities during the Pope’s visit? “It’s all over the map of what we’re going to do,” said Ruch.
Regardless of how Malvern approaches this unique opportunity, the Pope visiting Philadelphia is predicted to be a significant event.
“I believe that this event has the power to transform, in deeply positive ways, not just the Catholic church, but our entire community.” wrote Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia in a letter to the World Meeting of Families (WMF) organization.
Those of the faculty who have pushed for supporting a trip to Philly believe that it will be beneficial to Malvern’s students. Attending such a “powerful” event could possibly be very significant in their Catholic development.