An incredible week in Philadelphia

I honestly don’t know where to begin when it comes to reflecting on this past week.  So much of it feels like a dream.  But then my feet hurt and I remember that it was all very real.

It’s hard to believe the week is over.  Learning from Cardinals, Church leaders, and other Catholic celebrities and just taking in the joy of thousands of families all week, and then capping it off with the papal visit to Philadelphia … it’s just hard to believe it’s over.

Seeing the Popemobile on American city streets was surreal.

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…And then he stops and kisses your friend’s baby. And the 8 1/2 hours of waiting on the side of the road is all worth it.

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More later, folks. Although that was the high point right there.

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Historic Philadelphia

Today I may or may not have had a tour of historic Philadelphia from a guy who once played “young Ben Franklin” in a summer play on the streets of Philly.

Not only did I see where it all went down…

IMG_2823(confession: I wanted to sing songs from 1776 the whole time.)

But I also saw where (most of) our Founding Fathers worshipped:

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Christ Church- the Anglican church were many of the Founding Fathers, Betsy Ross, and the Penn family all had pews

And where they worked.  This is right by Ben Franklin’s house (right next to his printery office) and it’s still a working post office!

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We also visited Old St. Joseph’s, the first Catholic church in Philadelphia

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The beautiful painting on the ceiling was a gift from Francis Drexel’s estate. Yeah, like St. Katherine Drexel’s dad.

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Getting ready for the Pope!

And after a full afternoon at World Meeting of Families, we returned where we began the day – in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers – and had a drink at the pub where they hung out.  I’m pretty sure the real work of the Continental Congresses probably happened here.

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I couldn’t help but continue to think… what were these guys thinking? When they were all sitting at their Anglican service, did they have any idea what the heck was happening in this new country?  Did they realize they were making history?  Or were they just doing, in the words of Father Mike Schmitz, “the next thing” ??  I just wonder.

WMOF Day 1

Today was a quiet day before the mayhem begins.  …which basically will now translate into a blog post about food.  Catholic celebrities will come in time. Today you get pictures of food.

I hung around the house in the morning while Megan was at school, catching up on some work, watching Food Network, and having fun creating lunch with leftovers and staples in Megan’s fridge.  Once Megan got home and ate the pasta salad I created, we headed for the convention center downtown so I could pick up my registration.

While we were down there, it finally really sank in what exactly was happening.  We wandered into one of the exhibit halls, and although everyone was still setting up, there were booths as far as the eye could see of Catholic vendors.  EWTN had a huge booth with a sign hanging down from the ceiling.  Every Catholic publishing house you could think of was there.  And this was only one hall.

We started running into people from all over the world.

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This isn’t just some conference, Joannie.  This is going to be huge.

Registration went so smoothly – which was rather shocking after some of the snafus I have heard about in the last few weeks.  I picked up my name tag and all my loot and my train pass and I was good to go in less than ten minutes.

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I have to unpack all my loot so my bag is empty and ready to fill with all the chatchka the vendors will be handing out!  In addition to our t-shirt, our backpack had a water bottle, a nice hat, the Gospel of St. Luke, a rain poncho, two pens, a pin, tons of free literature from sponsors, and even a Pope Francis fan.

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The exhibitor program alone exhausted me.  Not to mention the program for the whole event. It weighs five pounds.

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On our way back to the train, we stopped into the Reading Terminal for a snack. I had only seen the Terminal during a flash mob on YouTube, so the foodie side of me was anxious to experience it.  I think I’ll eat lunch there every day this week.

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Megan got coffee, while I opted for Irish Coffee ice cream.

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It tasted just like Irish Coffee.  Deelish.

Then it was time to head back out of the city, where we picked up our friend Father Kevin at his parents’ house so we could go get cheesesteaks.  His dad and brother recommended Chubby’s, and even though the girl in me didn’t necessarily want to eat at a place called Chubby’s, I decided to put the “you are what you eat” idea out of my head and just embrace it.

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I’m pretty sure I’ll eat a cheesesteak for dinner every night this week.

After we hung out with Father’s family for awhile, it was time to head back home so Megan could get some work done. But we had one last stop before we were finished for the night…

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They deliver.  Seriously?  You can tell we’re near a college campus.

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Until tomorrow!

Sincerely,
Chubby

Prepping for the Pope

I don’t know why I was surprised to see a “Welcome Pope Francis!” sign in the Philadelphia airport last night.  I mean, this is kind of a big deal.  But it started to sink in then, and continued to sink in as we drove through the city and saw billboard after billboard welcoming the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis.  I mean, even Wawa is welcoming him!

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I also realized last week that this will not only be my first time to see a Pope on American soil, it’ll be my first time seeing the Pope anywhere outside of Rome!  I’ve seen John Paul II, Benedict, and Francis, but always in Vatican City or somewhere within the city of Rome.

So it’s happening, folks.  I haven’t blogged about my incredible experience at the Bristol night race (thank you, Dad!!) or the whiskey class I took a few weeks ago, or the incredible food I’ve eaten lately, but I’m back here and ready to blog about Philly.

I’ll be blogging serious thoughts over at joanmwatson.com – if I find time at the end of the day – but if I want to blog about things like the sandwich I ate from Wawa last night, you’ll find me around here.

We started the festivities of the week by going to a Padre Pio festival today, complete with people whose names are Antoinetta Biancorosso and Italian men who talked with their hands and plenty of people who were willing to jab you in the back if you weren’t standing close enough in the line for sausage and peppers. Good memories of Rome and hopefully good practice for what lies ahead next weekend.

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Okay, Philly.  Here’s your chance to shine. I’m still sad Francis didn’t come to Nashville, but it’s time to show him what your city is all about.  Okay, maybe not.  Please try to make Americans look good.

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