The pope is coming to town, and Penn couldn’t be more excited.
Called “the largest event” in Philadelphia’s history by Mayor Michael Nutter, Pope Francis’ two-day visit during the last weekend of September is expected to attract over a million people to the city.
In anticipation, College and Wharton senior Andrea Muglia started the initiative Penn for Pope Francis with a couple of friends last spring semester to organize events around his visit. The main event is to walk down together as a Penn community to the papal mass on Sunday, Sept. 27 after a group breakfast. Over 1,000 people — including students, professors and staff — have already signed up to participate in the group procession.
“As someone who is involved in the Catholic community and a lot of other organizations at Penn, I was in a good position to get as many people to engage with this historic event,” Muglia said. “And I personally like this pope, so this is really special to me.”
In addition, Penn for Pope Francis and the Newman Center are hosting Wharton alumnus Father James Martin on Monday, Sept. 14 to speak about Pope Francis’s papacy and his visit to Philadelphia. “We think Father Martin’s visit is important because, given that he is a Penn alum, a Jesuit like Pope Francis and one of the most well-known Catholic priests in the country, he is the very best person who could communicate with Penn students about Pope Francis,” said College senior Sean Foley, who is organizing the event. “We want this event to invite people from Penn and the Philadelphia community from all religious backgrounds to learn about Pope Francis and understand why what he does matters.”
Before the pope’s arrival in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, the Drexel Catholic community will celebrate with Penn and hold a “pope fest,” a carnival-style college party open to the public at the Newman Center on Friday, Sept. 25.
Penn students also have the option to participate in the Pope’s visit by volunteering with the World Meeting of Families. The city and the World Meeting of Families called for a total of 10,000 volunteers earlier this year and allotted 300 volunteer spots to Penn.
“This pope is so important for the church and the world right now,” said Ricardo Simmons, director of the Newman Center. “He’s been teaching all of us how it important it is to be humble, simple and inviting, and I look forward to learning more from him.”
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