Pope Francis arrived in the United States Tuesday afternoon for his first trip ever to this country. He’ll spend time in Washington D.C. and New York City and then head to Philadelphia. Thousands of Catholics as well as others are already gathering there for the World Meeting of Families. The event is held every three years and this first meeting in the U.S. Is now expected to be the largest in the event’s history, thanks in part to the pope’s visit.
“His visit here is an irreplaceable moment, one that will undoubtedly help all of us move toward a more hopeful future with renewed faith and confidence- as we seek to fulfill the theme of the World Meeting of Families, love is our mission the family fully alive,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Among those in attendance will be more than 50 people from Savannah. Last week in preparation for the trip, a group at the diocese headquarters held up a large banner that they planned to take with them to Philadelphia. They say looking for solutions facing modern families is the focus of the event, problems that include marriage, divorce, parenting, finances and more. But the highlight of the trip will certainly be the pope’s presence.
That is going to be an opportunity for us to hear him talk on a couple of issues particularly about families and how we should live our lives, our Catholic lives,” Ann Pinckney, Director of Faith Formation for Catholic Diocese of Savannah
The pope’s visit comes a time when membership in the American Catholic Church has declined. But many look to Pope Fancis to not only heal wounds but to navigate change. “He’s very much a communicator, he helps us to feel that each of us is important to him,” says Pinckney.
It may have been summed up best by Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of the Savannah Catholic Diocese “We’re looking forward to seeing the pope and welcoming him to the U.S., listening to his wisdom and his words and his reflection on the importance of the family. And to just show him how much we appreciate his presence in our world and his leadership as well,” he said.