New Jersey pope-goers inspired by Philly Mass
Some walked miles to claim a spot in time. Others waited more than five hours at a security checkpoint in order to gain access. Still, New Jersey's faithful who trekked to Philadelphia for Sunday's Mass with Pope Francis said the trip was worth the trouble, and it re-energized a faith that had been losing respect and a following.
"It's so much more than seeing the pope, but just seeing Christ in people," said Oceanport resident Nick Petrillo, following the two-hour service. "To see people from around the world flock to one place, to come to the shepherd...to be that witness, is inspiring."
New Jersey was well represented in the crowd of hundreds of thousands along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The Diocese of Metuchen alone brought close to 1,000 pilgrims by bus.
Sayreville resident Kathleen Estrada said an event like Sunday's quiets the concerns of anyone who claims the "Catholic church is irrelevant" and renews the faith of those who lost their way.
"I was just overwhelmed by the sheer number of people," she said. "It's so important to know you're not alone in what you believe."
Jen Draeger of Marlboro said she was inspired simply by walking through the streets of Philadelphia before and after the main event.
"Everything from banners to mainstream, secular stores welcoming the Holy Father was really remarkable," Draeger said. "I think it was really a work of the Holy Spirit."