America Gears Up to Welcome Pope
Ads and Videos Reflect U.S. Excitement on Eve of Visit
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 11, 2008.- "He's coming!" announce 150 advertisements emblazoned on Washington metro buses, in anticipation of Benedict XVI's upcoming pastoral visit to the United States next week.
The Pope arrives to the U.S. capital Tuesday, for his first visit to the country since elected Pontiff, and will most likely see some of the other banners posted by the Archdiocese of Washington when he travels through the city Thursday in the popemobile.
"These ads are a visible expression of our great affection for the Holy Father and our excitement for his upcoming visit," said Susan Gibbs, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Washington.
The text "One who has hope lives differently," taken from Benedict XVI's encyclical "Spe Salvi," runs across the center of the ad.
The Pope will visit the White House on Wednesday, and later the same day he will participate in a prayer service and meeting with the nation's 350 bishops.
On Thursday morning he will celebrate Mass at the new Nationals Park in Washington, meet with the heads of more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities at the Catholic University of America, and then meet with interreligious leaders at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
Comments on the Web site of the Archdiocese of New York also show that anticipation is building as the city prepares for the Pope to arrive there Friday morning.
On Friday the Holy Father will address the United Nations and attend a prayer service with Christian leaders of various denominations, and on Saturday he will celebrate the Eucharist with priests, deacons and religious at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and meet with youth at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers.
He will visit Ground Zero on Sunday and preside over a closing Mass at Yankee Stadium.
Sister Marie Pappas, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, said in a posted comment what she expects from the Holy Father's visit: "The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to our archdiocese and our great city is an extraordinary event -- one the whole world will be watching and interpreting. To have the Vicar of Christ in our midst is 'awesome' in the true sense of the word."
"In October of this year the foundress of our congregation, the Sisters of the Resurrection, was beatified. Then I visited the Pope with members of my community. Now he is visiting all of us," she added.
Father Joy Marpilly, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Manhattan, said in his posted comment: "This is a spiritually uplifting moment for our parish [...] as we continue to see ourselves as part of the universal Catholic Church. [...] And for the City of New York: This is a moment of pride and a rare opportunity to see ourselves as part of a global mission."
Fourth-grader Kerry Ann O'Brien of the Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Manhattan said, "The Pope's visit to the U.S. means to me that he wants to spread the Good News just like Jesus."
Dioceses and archdioceses around the country are also cuing up to welcome the Holy Father.
In a video posted on the Web site of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali welcomes the Holy Father to the United States. School children from around the archdiocese repeat the greeting in various languages.
Wrapping up a yearlong celebration of the bicentennial of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the video of the archdiocese adds the pastoral visit of Benedict XVI to the United States to a long list of blessings experienced by the city of brotherly love.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore, who is kicking off bicentennial celebrations marking 200 years as an archdiocese this weekend, also posted a video welcoming Benedict XVI to American soil.
"Holy Father, the great people of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the first Catholic diocese in the United States, welcome you."
Baltimore was established as the first Catholic diocese in the United States in 1789, serving the original 13 states. By 1804, its boundaries stretched north to Maine, west to Idaho and south to the Florida Panhandle.
Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago, welcomed the Holy Father to the United States in a video posted on YouTube.
Cardinal George said in the video: "Speaking on behalf of the 2.3 million Catholics in the 363 parishes that make up the Archdiocese of Chicago, all of us join in wishing Pope Benedict XVI a safe and blessed journey to our country the United States.
"We thank him for his tireless commitment to spreading the word of God and confirming our faith. We pray that the Pope's message now of faith, of unity, of love for all peoples around the world will be heard and taken into our hearts and acted upon."
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles also posted a video on their Web site.
This video welcome will be played on the big screen at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., as part of the festivities surrounding the Papal Mass on April 17, 2008.