Since its announcement in 2012, Khoi Tran counted down the days to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Tran was eager to actively be a part of the historical events, he said, and so he volunteered to help at the World Meeting Families. In turn, he achieved his dream of being able to experience first-hand many of the historic events that took place during Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States.
He arrived in Philadelphia on Sept. 21 and began preparing and planning for the week. He explored the city and became familiar with where the week’s events were going to take place, and he got acquainted with Philly’s public transportation system. The crowds began gathering on the afternoon of Sept. 21 and didn’t let up until late the evening of Sept. 27, Tran said.
“It was the first time ever I experienced a huge crowd [like that],” he said.
His volunteer activities included handing out meeting kits and t-shirts, helping people find their seats at the papal Mass and assisting with the Vietnamese Liturgy, a task which was asked of him by Sister Maria Nguyễn Thị Hồng Quế, O.P., a long-time friend of Tran’s who is a Vietnamese Dominican sister. She read the second reading of the papal mass in Vietnamese.
The entire experience will be forever etched in Tran’s memory. It was a week he’ll never forget.
“It was such a wonderful experience in my life, and I was honored to be a part of this historical meeting,” Tran said. “Fresh images are still in my mind of a cloudy Sunday afternoon with no sun, a comfortable weather with low winds and many hundreds of thousands of people gathered for mass, waiting to be blessed by our Holy Father!”
Pope Francis’ stance on the family and his message of compassion, mercy and love is one Tran thinks everybody can relate to, even non-believers.
“Our Holy Father sends a strong message and invites our society and each of us, both Catholics and non-Catholics, to love and care for others, especially our spouses, children, grandparents and families.”