Kevin Birnbaum is the assistant editor of Northwest Catholic and a member of Seattle’s Blessed Sacrament Parish. Contact him at Kevin.Birnbaum@seattlearch.org.

Final Mass with Pope Francis a great blessing

Final Mass with Pope Francis a great blessing
​Pope Francis' first visit to the United States ended on a very high note Sunday with a massive Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. While the previous day of waiting for a fleeting glimpse of the pope had been stressful and exhausting for many Seattle pilgrims, the Sunday liturgy left us energized and effusive.  For me, Satu...
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Our surprising first sighting of Pope Francis in Philadelphia

Our surprising first sighting of Pope Francis in Philadelphia
​Knowing the way that people tend to respond to being in the presence of Pope Francis, I hope you won't think I'm a defective Catholic when I say that the Seattle pilgrims' first "close encounter" Saturday with the Holy Father was ... a bit of a letdown.  The day got off to a great start. We left our hotel outside Philadelphia before 9 a.m., p...
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Rick Warren's 5 rules for joy-filled families

Rick Warren's 5 rules for joy-filled families
"Like drinking from a fire hose." That's how several Seattle pilgrims have described trying to take in and process all the information, experiences and encounters on tap this week in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families, which came to an end Friday afternoon. The closing keynote address, "The Joy of the Gospel of Life," delivered join...
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Saying goodbye to the World Meeting of Families (and hello to Pope Francis!)

Saying goodbye to the World Meeting of Families (and hello to Pope Francis!)
I always get a little depressed when big festive events like this World Meeting of Families start winding down, when the vendors start packing up and the crowds clear out. Just a half-day schedule Friday morning -- a keynote by Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston and megapastor Rick Warren, and one breakout session -- and then the congress i...
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'Asian Francis' lights up World Meeting of Families

'Asian Francis' lights up World Meeting of Families
Spending all week at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the World Meeting of Families, I've seen very little coverage of Pope Francis' visits to Washington, D.C., and New York. But I saw a pretty good substitute Thursday afternoon.  Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has often been called the "Asian Francis," and after his keynote address , I can...
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What Peter Kreeft told me about being a father

What Peter Kreeft told me about being a father
Before each of the keynote addresses at the World Meeting of Families, they've been playing clips from Humanum , a series of short films about marriage and the family that aim to "highlight the inherent truth, goodness, and beauty underlying the global human experience," according to the website. They're beautiful, and you can watch them all online...
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10 tips for passing on the faith to your children

10 tips for passing on the faith to your children
I attended a breakout session Wednesday at the World Meeting of Families with Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver called "The School of the Heart: Parents as Primary Catechists." He offered 10 practical tips to help parents evangelize and catechize their children.  1. Be present to your children. "In a word: Stay home, eat together at le...
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Debate over Communion for the divorced and remarried pops up at World Meeting of Families Mass

Debate over Communion for the divorced and remarried pops up at World Meeting of Families Mass
The most contentious debate at last fall's Synod of Bishops on the Family -- and one that's sure to feature prominently in next month's synod -- was about whether the church should ever permit divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist. I was surprised when that debate found its way into m...
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The big problem with the World Meeting of Families

The big problem with the World Meeting of Families
Attending the World Meeting of Families, much like living in a family, involves difficult decisions and sacrifices. This is actually a good problem to have: There are just too many outstanding speakers here, and we can't hear them all. In addition to the six keynote addresses this week, there are five "breakout sessions" where we have to choose fro...
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An exciting, and exhausting, first day at the World Meeting of Families

An exciting, and exhausting, first day at the World Meeting of Families
The World Meeting of Families is underway, and it is exhausting -- so much to see and hear and think about! It's also very late as I write this, so I'll offer just a few disjointed thoughts on the first day of the congress.  1. First of all, the organizers of the World Meeting of Families deserve a gold medal. It's frightening to think about t...
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The real reason Pope Francis is coming to the U.S.

The real reason Pope Francis is coming to the U.S.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. today at 4 p.m. Eastern. Millions of people will turn out to see him over the next five days, and the Archdiocese of Seattle's pilgrims to the World Meeting of Families are eagerly looking forward to our weekend with him in Philadelphia.  It's all very exciting, but I admit I've sometimes felt&nb...
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Day 1 recap: Openness, expectation and a good dinner

Day 1 recap: Openness, expectation and a good dinner
Well, a very long Day 1 of our pilgrimage is in the books. After flying to Newark and busing to Philadelphia, our group of 16 (including four from the Yakima Diocese and one from Pasadena) met up with our bus buddies for the week from the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan. Their friendly and casually dressed bishop, Philadelphia native Jo...
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Pope Francis: The future depends on 'a new covenant between man and woman'

Pope Francis: The future depends on 'a new covenant between man and woman'
I'm at SeaTac, waiting for our 6 a.m. flight to Newark, and wondering what God might have in store for us this week in Philadelphia. What exactly will the World Meeting of Families be like? I'm not sure, but I know that Pope Francis, at least, thinks it's an extremely important event.  In his Wednesday audience last week, the pope said that th...
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Follow me to the World Meeting of Families!

Follow me to the World Meeting of Families!
Hi! I'm Kevin Birnbaum, assistant editor of Northwest Catholic, and I'll be traveling to Philadelphia on Monday morning with 15 other pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Seattle to attend the World Meeting of Families. We'll be joined by 31 more Western Washingtonians for Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia Sept. 26-27! When people hear that ...
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