Today was our first full day in Philly: the time to get registered, figure out travel logistics, welcome the EB Pilgrims to Philadelphia, and bond. As our family waited for the train to head into the convention center, we had our first opportunity to witness. We connected with a group from a Naples, Florida parish, and started chatting. They asked what group we were with, and we told them about the Equally Blessed Pilgrimage. Then we discussed our families. Very pleasant. We ran into some members of the group in the registration line, and it was like seeing old friends. In that line, we had conversations with folks from North Carolina and Mexico, and then with several volunteers as we passed through the various stations. We were always treated warmly. As Becky and I registered our daughters for the Youth Congress, it was a little nerve-wracking, but again, we had pleasant chats with the volunteers about how well-constructed the Youth program looked.
Our room served as “Equally Blessed Central” during the afternoon, as Pilgrims came by to get their polos and t-shirts, and to pack bags with items to give out to those we connect with over the next several days. Rainbow hats, pins, lollipops, and knitted flowers, Equally Blessed buttons and stickers, Catholic Promises Cards, Pope dolls with Equally Blessed on his back, angels and prayer buddies, and, of course, the EB schedule of activities, were packed into bags for distribution. So many were so generous in sending all of this in! We’ll have great mementoes for those we meet.
This evening James Rowe of Believe Out Loud hosted a lovely gathering at the William Way Community Center. It was a great opportunity for the Pilgrims to socialize with each other and with several leaders of Philadelphia’s Catholic community. Margie Winters and Andrea Vettori were among the guests. Great to finally meet them after all the phone and email connections! The space was graced with the art from the LGBT Way of the Cross—so moving. It was a fantastic gathering!
Tomorrow we start with our press conference, and then the World Meeting of Families officially gets underway in the afternoon. As the rest of the Pilgrims get started on their outreach, I head to D.C. for the events at the White House Wednesday morning. Exciting days ahead! Please keep your support and prayers coming!