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 is over. Soon this whole pilgrimage will be a memory.
We Seattle pilgrims are a diverse, somewhat unlikely little group: men and women; from our 20s to our 80s; married, single, divorced and widowed; cradle Catholics and converts; clergy and laity; parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. And yet, in just four days, we've bonded, shared significant experiences, formed friendships. It will be sad to part.
But I can't be too melancholy about the closing of the congress when it means that Pope Francis will soon be here in Philadelphia. A new wave of 31 pilgrims from Seattle is arriving Friday to join us for his visit, which could well be even more powerful and memorable than the rest of this week of pilgrimage.