The scene at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday September 20, 2015, was joyous as a capacity audience celebrated the first morning mass at daybreak before the historic visit of one of the most beloved and adored popes since Pope John Paul II.
Unlike former NBC anchorman Brian Williams, the present journalist never met Pope John Paul II; however, as the Editor-in-Chief and principle author of a book given to the Pope he did secure tickets to the 50,000 seat Williams-Brice Stadium in September of 1987 to see the pope deliver the Mass in Columbia, South Carolina.
With only four tickets per church the possibility of every person in the 10 million population metro area getting inside the Basilica grounds to see the Pope in 2015 is impossible. But Raj at the Sunoco Station on Glebe Road in Arlington had a unique and positive way of looking at the ticket situation. “I am going. Just to be near the pope is a blessing. I am not concerned about the tickets,” the customer service professional said.
Raj was not alone in his positive outlook. There were 50,000 people at the mass the present writer attended with people who packed into the giant football arena to see Pope John Paul II in 1987. From the seats at the top of the stadium, although it was possible to say that you were in the stadium, it was not possible to see the faces of the people on the stage with the naked eye. The speakers and giant screens showed the Holy Father but it was not possible to see him clearly from the distance.
The Mass on Wednesday September 23rd, 2015, will be held in the area in front of the Catholic University of America and the side of the Basilica with only four tickets in each parish only a few worshipers from each church will be able to gain entrance to the cordoned off areas where Pope Francis will give his historic message. It will be possible to view the Mass online on the Internet.
The Mass on Sunday September 20, 2015, gave those in attendance an opportunity to learn about the message the pope will deliver and the chance to support his visit with a donation. The message will be on helping the poor, service and love for neighbors. It was a beautiful celebration in preparation for the visit of Pope Francis.
Jesus Christ did not give highly complicated, technical messages that only theologians could understand. He gave sermons for the common man and woman. He asked his followers to come unto him like children and he gave them easy to understand lessons.
Although smart people may consider simple messages sophomoric; the truly intelligent realize that not every person understands in the same manner and sometimes a simple life and simple lesson is all that needed to lead people to the correct path. Pope Francis is loved by the poor because they know he truly loves the poor. The White House has provided the American people with all the details of the Pope’s visit to America. No tickets are required for the Pope’s parade and is the best place for people without tickets to other events to see the Pope. The White House schedule of events are as follows:
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
4:00 p.m: Pope Francis arrives in D.C. at Joint Base Andrews at 4 p.m.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
9:15 a.m: White House Welcoming Ceremony and personal meeting with President Barack Obama
11:00 a.m. Papal Parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall.
11:30 a.m: Midday Prayer with U.S. bishops at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral in D.C.
4:15 p.m: Junipero Serra Canonization Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
9:20 a.m: Arrival at the United States Capitol.
10 a.m. Speech to the United States Senate and House of Representatives in a Joint Session of Congress.
11 a.m. Brief appearance on West Front of Capitol.
11:15 a.m: Visit to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in D.C. and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.
4 p.m: Departure for New York from Joint Base Andrews for John F. Kennedy International Airport
6:45 p.m. Evening prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.
Friday, September 25, 2015
8:30 a.m. United Nations General-Assembly Address.
11:30 a.m. Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center.
4 p.m. Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem.
5 p.m. Papal motorcade through Central Park.
6 p.m. Madison Square Garden Mass.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
8:40 a.m. Departure for Philadelphia from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
9:30 a.m. Arrival in Atlantic Aviation hangar at Philadelphia International Airport Philadelphia.
10:30 a.m. Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul.
4:45 p.m. Visit to Independence Mall.
7:30 p.m. Visit to Festival of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Prayer Vigil with World Meeting of Families.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
9:15 a.m. Papal meeting with Bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
11 a.m. Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.
4 p.m. Papal Mass for World Meeting of Families.
7 p.m. Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families at Atlantic Aviation.
8 p.m. Departure for return to Rome.
For security purposes all people attending viewing events must pass through magnetometers. The Secret Service will direct people to the magnetometers closest to their viewing areas. The scanning is a necessary precaution to ensure the safety of all people attending the events. The Secret Service has provided a list of the locations so that people can locate the security area near the Metro stations:
• ADA/Handicap vehicles that have RSVP’d to the Archdiocese of Washington
will travel south on John McCormack Drive from Taylor Street.
• Ticketed pedestrians from the Charter Bus stop and taxi drop will proceed
northeast on Michigan Avenue to the first magnetometer bank.
• Ticketed attendees coming from the Brookland Metro Station will proceed
southwest on Michigan Avenue to the magnetometer banks.
• Brookland bus patrons will proceed west on Monroe Street to Michigan
Avenue or turn north on 7th Street NE to access the magnetometer banks on
Michigan Avenue. (Guides will direct overflow crowds to the magnetometers
on Michigan Avenue south of Monroe Street.)
Foggy Bottom subway riders should proceed to
to Virginia Avenue NW. Then proceed southeast on Virginia
Avenue to 19th Street NW. Proceed south on 19th Street to
• Farragut West, Farragut North, and McPherson Square
attendees will be directed to proceed west on I Street to 19th
Street. Attendees will then travel south on 19th Street to
Constitution Avenue. All pedestrian traffic will be directed to
the magnetometers at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue.
• National Guard guides will direct overflow to the National
Park Service and U.S. Park Police, who will provide guidance
through the National Mall / World War II Memorial area to
the nearest magnetometer adjacent to 17th Street and the
• If the magnetometers at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue
are overtaxed, overflow will be directed to the magnetometer
bank near 15th Street and Jefferson Drive.
• Attendees utilizing Metro Center, Gallery Place/Chinatown,
Federal Triangle, and Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
Metro Stops will be directed to walk south to Constitution
Avenue and travel west to the magnetometers at 14th Street
• Attendees utilizing the Smithsonian, L’Enfant Plaza Metro
Stops, or the Charter Bus stop on L’Enfant Plaza near
Independence Avenue will travel west on Independence
Avenue and Jefferson Drive to the nearest magnetometer bank
closest to 15th Street and Independence Avenue.
• National Guard guides will direct overflow along the southwest
side of the fencing adjacent to the non-scalable fence to
the next magnetometer entrance at 17th Street near the
“President Obama and the First Lady will welcome His Holiness Pope Francis to the White House on Wednesday, September 23 during his first trip to the United States. During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue that began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, when they discussed their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues,” the White House said.
The Secret Service told the present writer that there will be magnetometers at all public viewing areas and service will be provided to make certain that all the events are safe and secure. There will be large crowds at the public events and readers are asked to prepare for the screenings. Please do not attempt to move fences or to circumvent the security measures.
Welcome to America, Pope Francis.