How to Make the Pope’s Visit More Meaningful for the Kids

Pope Francis will be here in Manila in 2 days and my family and I haven't decided if we are going to brave the crowds to see him.  Of course my husband said we get the best vantage point from the TV but somehow I feel something is remiss with this kind of involvement.  As a kid who camped the grounds of Luneta when Pope John Paul 2 was here last February 1981, I feel the experience is best felt out there.   Yes it was stinky and hot then, but the energy of the youth Pope John Paul so loved fueled my yearning soul.   I saw him (I have actually seen a saint!) on the stands of Luneta that day and it remains to be one of my best childhood memories.

Now, with children of my own, I want them to experience the same oneness, the same faith.  But then again this time,  6 million people is the estimated crowd. And the praning in me has the recent Paris attack looming in my mind.

And so I have resigned myself to watching the entire event from the TV.

My daughter changed my mind though.  In her CLE class,  the topic is but of course about Pope Francis.  Now my kids know what is a bouncer and that Pope Francis used to be one:-)  My daughter also recounted the insightful discussion they had in class (this is not a direct quote, just what I gathered from my daughter's thoughts).

The holiday the government gave the Philippine nation, a predominantly Catholic country,  is for us to take time to welcome Pope Francis.  It is not meant to be taken as a time to go out of the country for a vacation.  You don't leave your house when a very, very important guest is coming.  You stay and welcome him. 

I know all of you won't actually see the Pope, instead you will see lots and lots of  heads but when you go and take time to be there you get to experience something holy.  You see a nation united in faith.  You experience the holiness of One Body of Christ which is the Church.

The Pope represents Jesus' church.  If Jesus visited and all you would be seeing would be heads,  would you go?   Would you?

O di ba,  napa-isip naman ako ng todo-todo.  There are 2 windows where we can try to see the Pope, January 16 and January 18 (see Papal Itinerary).

Here are the options:

1.  Go and book a hotel near Roxas Boulevard.  This option should have been explored months ago.  Hotels are already fully booked.

2.  Go early and camp.  The school of my son is sending a small delegation.  They leave at 4am to attend the 3:30pm mass.  According to MMDA traffic enforcers,  he advises his uniformed men to wear adult diapers.  Ewww!  But practical.

3.  Try to get as close to his motorcade on January 16 en route to Mall of Asia.  Bring a disposable umbrella, take the MRT and walk from Pasay MRT to Mall of Asia.

4.  Try to get as close to the crowds on January 18.  Monitor traffic from the friendly Waze and plot where best to stand.

5.  Our main parish is going to do a live stream of the Pope's January 18 mass.   Communion will also be done.   This is actually a very, very good option for kids.

I also read a very insightful article of Voltaire Tupaz in Rappler controversially titled "Why I'm not excited to see the Pope"

If you didn't have time to read the whole article, the long and short of it is that he is not too interested in "physically seeing" the Pope instead he is more interested to hear and live his message.   We can take a cue from this as well by engaging our kids in a short, informal discussion of who Pope Francis is, the values he stands for,  the way he connected to the people (show the selfies he took - kids can relate to that),  the changes he has made in the church.  I'll try to do some research and share with this with you guys tomorrow - Snippets of Pope Francis Kids can Understand and Relate to.

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I'm still plotting out our strategy with 4 and 5 as the 2 probable options.  How about you?  How do you plan to make Pope Francis' visit more meaningful for the kids?

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