Eighteen sophomores and juniors from Loyola High School will travel to Philadelphia Sept. 23 through 28 to attend an address by Pope Francis during his visit this month to the United States.
Loyola High School dean of students Daniel Annarelli is leading the trip to his hometown, where the students will participate in St. Joseph’s Preparatory School’s “2Philly4Francis” events. They will be joined by students from more than 40 Jesuit schools in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico who will gather in Philadelphia for the pope’s historic visit.
Annarelli, who attended St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, said the trip will broaden the students’ education and will open them to new experiences. Attending Pope Francis’ address at the Festival of Families on Sept. 26 and a mass the following day will be the highlight of the trip, Annarelli said. However, the students will also tour Villanova University – one of the top universities attended by Loyola High School graduates – and will participate in a day of discussions, forums and prayer groups at St. Joseph’s.
“For me personally, it’s an honor and a privilege to travel with these kids,” Annarelli said. “They are intelligent and are interested in stepping outside of their world and doing something unique.”
The dean said many of the participating students will be traveling outside of Los Angeles for the first time, and it will be their first trip away from home without their parents. He said they will meet like-minded peers and learn about different approaches to education and theology. Annarelli and two additional adult chaperones will accompany the students.
“It will really change their perspective,” Annarelli said. “We fly in to Philly on Wednesday and will go to the suburbs. We wanted to get there in advance, and will be having dinner at my parents’ home. I thought it would be a great way to kick off the week.”
Pope Francis will arrive in Washington D.C. on Sept. 22 and meet with President Barack Obama the following day. On Sept. 24, the pope will give a speech before Congress before departing for New York City. Pope Francis will address the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25 and will participate in a religious ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and a mass in Madison Square Garden. The pope will then travel to Philadelphia on Sept. 26, and will participate in the Festival of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway. He will also participate in a papal mass on Sept. 27 in Philadelphia before returning to Rome.
Annarelli said the group from Loyola High School will be among the more than one million people expected to attend the pope’s public masses in the United States, and he hopes it is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.
“We will experience mass with all the pilgrims,” he added. “It is going to be very exciting.”
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