Craig and Katie are loving parents who traveled from Baltimore to Philadelphia with their four children — Abby, 7; Isabella, 6; Sophia, 3 (“but about to turn 4,” says Isabella); and Kolbe, 11 months — to see the Pope. Now, they say, their children have a memory they’ll never forget.
The family was happy to speak to ZENIT following Pope Francis’ final Mass in the United States this afternoon in Philadelphia and shared how, from their point of view, the Pope’s visit helped create unity among people and understanding within families.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this afternoon before returning to Rome this evening, after a jam-packed Apostolic Visit to Cuba and the US cities of Washington, New York and Philadelphia, Sept. 19-28.
Katie highlighted how having their little ones at this incredible event has helped them to appreciate what the Church really is, with all its levels and institutions. “No longer is it that we just refer and explain about the Pope and the Church and its levels, but now they really understand. They will be able to look back and remember, ‘Yes, I remember when we saw the Pope.'”
The parents underscored how this experience will make what seems like a structure a distance away be close and tangible to the little ones. Katie also noted how exciting it was last night at the Festival of Families for one of their daughters to be perched on her shoulder and get a glimpse of the Pope.
Moreover, they noted the unifying effect of these papal events in this City of Brotherly Love, particularly how once you see Francis and share that moment with those around you–even if they are strangers, diverse, or have different beliefs than you, that you have a meaningful connection with them.
Craig, who works for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, had been in Philly for the course of the week and was thrilled to have the rest of the family join him.
The family will continue with good works after the Pope has departed. For instance the little girls already had a dollar in their hands that they were getting ready to give to the homeless. Abby told ZENIT, “I saw two homeless people on the way here.”
Other Reactions to Philly’s Papal Family Events
ZENIT also spoke to various people who had been at the Festival of Families last night, including Ginny Mehrer, Helene Long, and Mary Welsh, who recounted how they found the family testimonies to be the highlight. They also mentioned how much it struck them when Mark Wahlberg attributed his success to his Catholic faith.
They said that even if people were watching from jumbotrons, the emotion was just as strong. Everyone was clapping and cheering. If those gathered thought they could catch even a far-off glimpse of the Pope, they said, this was enough.
Elsie Howell, a pre-med senior at Villanova, shared how her experience has been incredibly rewarding. During this World Meeting of Families, she volunteered with Catholic Relief Services.
She mentioned that her parents were at last night’s Festival of Families and how from their point of view ‘Marky Mark’ and Sister Sledge really were among the highlights.