By Violeta Rocha
Special to The Texan Catholic
Like one big family, thousands gathered at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas Sept. 27 to view on the big screen a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Philadelphia and to receive a blessing from Bishop Kevin J. Farrell.
The viewing under sunny skies brought children with their families, high school students, young adults from all walks of life—those from Southern Methodist University, the University of Dallas and the University of Texas at Dallas, among others, and young professionals and married couples starting their own families.
Many brought blankets and chairs to sit on and umbrellas to protect them from the mid-day Texas sky.
“It is very encouraging to see so many people out here,” said Joe Christensen, 37, a parishioner of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who came with his wife and four children to the event that drew 3,000 people.
“We came to see Pope Francis and to join the crowds and see him not just in our home, but out with everybody else. This is a beautiful park and a great place to gather,”
Christensen said bringing his children to view the Mass would be memorable for them. He remembers watching St. John Paul II traveling the world as pope.
“We are just planting a seed, because from my childhood, I remember Pope John Paul II as a young vibrant pope who had a funny accent,” he said, “and that is what I think it would be like for them with Pope Francis, and that is fine.”
Wearing their blue T-shirts that read “UD loves Pope Francis,” several University of Dallas students fanned across the park, looking for the right spot to watch the Mass.
“I was surprised of how many people were here, especially young people, and families with kids,” said Catherine Gilmore, a junior at UD. “It is great to see lots of people—very devout, very Catholic, supporting our pope.”
Annamica Reding, also a junior at the University of Dallas, said she saw the announcement of the event on social media and wanted to participate.
“I think it is really beautiful that our diocese put this together,” she said. “I’m really excited to be here for our school and Catholic youth. It has been an awesome time.”
Bishop Farrell welcomed and thanked those in attendance.
“Pope Francis is in Philadelphia, but his message is here in the city of Dallas today,” the bishop said. “We are a family and we must be one for each other.”