At Divinity Clergy Wear, we supply church robes for pastors and other garments to religious leaders nationwide. As a company based in Trenton, NJ, however, we know that some of our loyal local clients –notably those based in the Philadelphia region- are excited and energized to make the potentially once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to see Pope Francis during the upcoming Worldwide Meeting of Families on September 25th and 26th. While the event is sure to be a momentous opportunity for devoted Catholics from around the world to meet and exchange ideas, blessings and friendship, there are always some logistical difficulties with very large gatherings of people. We’ve written this brief guide to help you and your family or community members make the best of this joyous occasion with as little stress as possible.
1) Book both travel and accommodations well in
advance. The city of Philadelphia has taken special measures to accommodate
the influx of people, which are expected to number in the hundreds of
thousands. Some of these measures involve extremely restricted travel
capacities, with certain parts of the Center City district designated as
car-free and some highways shut down entirely. Public transportation will also
be accessible on a limited basis. Be sure to carefully research your options
before departure, as some of these restrictions required advance purchase of
tickets or access.
Hotels and other means of accommodation in the city are not yet fully booked, but rooms are going quickly and it is advised to find rooms before much more time goes by.
2) Take special care to prepare in advance for the comfort of children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Although operations are generally expected to run smoothly, long lines for food and drinks in centrally-located areas may cause issues for those with sensitive health needs. Although cooler temperatures are predicted, be sure to pack water and snacks to avoid accidental dehydration or low blood sugar, in case waits for these things are lengthy.
Other items – such as batteries, disposable cameras, umbrellas, first-aid supplies, toilet paper and other basics – may also go quickly, so bringing your own supply is advised.
3) Remember the spirit of the occasion. We find that it can be tempting to succumb to stress and competition when vying for a closer parking spot, better view, seat on the train or next position in a line during a crowded event. If you find yourself becoming exasperated with others when in these kinds of situations, which are bound to present themselves at such a large and well-publicized occasion, take a moment for reflection and prayer to recall that, at the end of the day, other pilgrims are there for the same reason you are – to come together in worshipful devotion and the spirit of friendship.
We hope this guide helps you make the most out of this incredible event! For more information, we recommend viewing official sources that will help you learn more about transportation restrictions and accommodations during the 2015 Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, PA.