This September, a group of seven Seattle Prep students got to experience an opportunity of a lifetime. One was our very own Annika Bjornson, Westside School Class of 2014! Students from Seattle Prep joined 42 other Jesuit schools on a pilgrimage with one of their teachers to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia. Annika recently reflected on her experience, enjoy!
Over four hundred Jesuit students from around the country stayed on the beautiful campus of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School from Thursday, September 24 to Monday, September 28.
Thursday consisted of opening ceremonies and festivities, as well as a mass and breakout sessions. Friday was spent in fellowship with other pilgrims and listening to guest speakers in the cathedral, which was built in 1851. On Saturday, the large group paraded through the streets to Independence Hall and waited for six hours to see the pope drive by before he addressed the crowd. Spirits were high in the crowd as people pressed forward against the rails to catch a glimpse of the man’s joyful face.
The next day, all went down to the Ben Franklin Parkway for a citywide mass which included 2 million people. Pope Francis passed twice just 10 feet away from the Prep students on this occasion, for which they had reserved a spot by waiting seven hours. Before flying out the next day, the travelers went sightseeing around Philadelphia via the subway. Attractions they visited include Independence Hall and the steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, better known as the “Rocky Steps.”
The significance of this journey is incredible. Not only did the students get to know on a personal level many people with their shared values, but they also witnessed firsthand the impact of Pope Francis’ ability to love openly. Says Fr. Fitterer SJ of how the pope is impacting the Catholic church, “He lives what he speaks. You find a lot of saying but not a lot of doing…He walks his talk and that’s what he’s inviting us to do.”
Congratulations to Annika for the opportunity to participate in this special and memorable experience!