Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pope Francis Visits United States This Week

Photo by Dave Yoder/National Geographic
Our children have been going to Sunday and Holiday masses with my wife and I since they were infants, but the next few months are a particularly important time for their induction into the Catholic faith as they begin attending catechism and preparing for their First Communion.  So Pope Francis' visit to the United States from Tuesday, September 22 through Sunday, September 27th presents a great opportunity for us to have some teachable moments regarding the Catholic faith and the Pope's role in the Church as he tours our country.

As part of our discussion with our children about the Pope's visit, we read together as a family the book National Geographic Readers: Pope Francis.  This book was really perfect for our first grader twins because it is a Level 1 book meant for early independent readers or parents reading aloud to their kids.  This 32 page softcover book is recommended for children 4 to 6 years old and provides readers with an overview of the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina who became the first Pope to originate from the Americas and the first to replace another living Pope for the leadership position of the world's largest Christian church which has a congregation of more than 1.25 billion people worldwide.

Photo by Dave Yoder/National Geographic

National Geographic Kids points out some fun facts in their book that can help children relate to Pope Francis such as:
  • Pope Francis is the oldest brother of 5 siblings;
  • He loved to play soccer as a kid;
  • Praying was something he learned from his grandmother during his childhood;
  • He has been featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine;
  • The Pope is an excellent cook;
  • He was the first Pope to take a Selfie;
  • As a kid Pope Francis collected stamps and now his image is featured on several stamps.

This National Geographic Kids book written by Barbara Kramer is available for $3.99 from the National Geographic online store and other retailers such as or Barnes & Noble.  It is part of the National Geographic Readers series which provides kid friendly profiles of public and historical figures including Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Graham Bell, George Washington, Rosa Parks, Sacagawea, Thomas Edison and President Obama.  These easy to read books also feature topics such as Coral Reefs, Ellis Island, Mars, Trucks, Weird Sea Creatures and Volcanoes.

Pope Francis visit to the United States begins in Washington D.C. where he will meet the President at the White House and give a speech to a Joint Session of Congress at the Capitol.  There will also be a Papal Parade through the National Mall and a special mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis will be in Washington D.C. from Tuesday September 22 through Thursday September 24.

The Pope will arrive in New York City on Thursday evening.  While in New York he will attend an evening prayers at St. Patrick's Cathedral, address the United Nations General Assembly, attend a mulit-religious services at the Word Trade Center's 9/11 memorial and museum, visit a catholic elementary school in East Harlem, and have a procession through Central Park.  Pope Francis' stay in Manhattan will wrap up with a mass at Madison Square Gardens on Friday, September 25th.

Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia on Saturday, September 26th for a two day stay.  While in Philadelphia, he will hold mass at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, visit Independence Mall, meet with bishops at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, tour the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, and meet with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families.  The Pope then departs back to Rome on Sunday evening.

While hundreds of thousands of people are expected to see Pope Francis as he visits the US, if you aren't able to be in the area to see him in person here are a few suggestions on how to join in on the experience from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
  • Take part in a "Virtual Pilgrimage" with these prayers as the Holy Father makes his way to more than a dozen different locations in Washington, DC, New York City, and Philadelphia.
  • Learn more about the places Pope Francis will visit by following his journey on this interactive map.
  • Have a Papal Visit Watch Party!  All events will be live streamed in English with audio commentary here.  Select events will also be available for video on demand here.
  • Respond to Pope Francis's call to have a personal encounter with Jesus by reaching out to those in need, supporting parish or community charitable efforts, acting to promote life, human dignity, families and religious freedom, and by caring for creation. Find ideas here.
  • Engage in social media: use our hash tags #PopeinUS and #PapaEnUSA.  Don't forget to use some Pope emojis!
  • Support the many people working to make Pope Francis' historic US visit a success by praying for them to the Blessed Virgin under her title  Mary, Undoer of Knots. . . (a favorite of Pope Francis). Include in your intentions: Vatican staff, The US Secret Service, the US Bishops, their staff and volunteers, the World Meeting of Families committee and volunteers, and the three host archdioceses and host cities.
 For more information about Pope Francis's visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web siteYou can also follow Pope Francis on Twitter at @Pontifex.

A Geek Daddy Blog is participating in the National Geographic Kids Insider brand ambassador program for the 2015-2016 school year. During this time, the “Insiders” will get a behind-the-scenes look at National Geographic’s resources, activities, content and projects for kids and families. National Geographic Kids Insiders review books, magazines television shows and toys, and will be offered interviews with authors, explorers and editors.

Photos uses in this blog post are by Dave Yoder/National Geographic from the book POPE FRANCIS & THE NEW VATICAN used with permission.  Copying, distribution, archiving, sublicensing, sale, or resale of these images is prohibited.  In other words you can look but don't touch the photos in this blog post - which in general is how you should treat all the photos on A GEEK DADDY as this is a copyrighted website with all rights reserved by the publisher. #NGKinsider

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