The archdiocesan pilgrimage to Rome to witness the April 27 canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II is going forward as planned, even if the number of people attending is fewer than expected.
Registrations for the trip are light, which is why the deadline for signing up has been extended past this week for another 15 days.
Father Dennis Gill, director of the archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship, said almost 40 people are currently registered for the trip to witness the proclamation of the two popes as saints. If 60 people attend, and ideally for Father Gill, 100, two buses can be obtained in Rome for the Philadelphia pilgrims.
The biggest reason for people’s reticence, he said, is the expected presence of millions of people in Rome for the canonization Mass. Many Catholics from Poland alone are likely to make the relatively short trip to witness their beloved native son, Blessed John Paul, be proclaimed a saint. That is in addition to the many thousands more who will attend from around the world.
The significance of the trip is witnessing the canonization of the two popes, “who are in the living memory of the people who will be there,” Father Gill said.
The week-long canonization ceremonies, culminating in the Sunday Mass celebrated with Pope Francis, is a “sacramental image of the church, and to be an actual part of it is something you can’t substitute by watching it on television or streaming it online,” Father Gill said.
The pilgrimage, coordinated by Select International Tours, will leave Philadelphia April 21 and return April 29. Included is a side trip to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis.
Mass will be celebrated for the pilgrims each day, Father Gill said, and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fitzgerald will attend the trip.
The all-inclusive package includes air travel from Philadelphia, stay at the four-star Cicerone Hotel or an equivalent, taxes, land travel, tips, all breakfasts and most dinners.
The per-person cost is $3,795, although that may vary slightly with changes in the dollar-to-euro exchange rates.