Yesterday was, alas, our last day in Philadelphia. On Friday afternoon we spent a few hours walking around the historic part of the city - the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Reading Market, and the Love sculpture. The kids were pretty tired and hungry - a deadly combination with walking! So needless to say they weren't as enthusiastic about some of the sites as I was! It was pretty cool being inside Independence Hall and seeing where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated. They still have the original chair George Washington sat in as president of the Constitutional Convention! To make up for it, we took the kids to a Dave and Buster's for dinner and a little fun. They won so many tickets at the games that they were able to get a life size Scooby-Doo stuffed animal. They put a Saint Francis Inn t-shirt on him and had all the staff members sign the shirt. It will now stand as a mascot in Campus Ministry.
Yesterday we gathered for Mass one last time and at the end of Mass, they presented each of us with a Tau Cross, a symbol of the Franciscan order. Saint Francis adopted the cross as his personal symbol and signed each letter with it. The cross dates back to the book of Ezekiel and is a sign of a person's willingness to repent and turn back to God. There were many a tears as the staff placed the crosses over each person's head.
Following this we helped prep and serve one last meal. We were all done by 1:30pm or so and were on the road by 2pm. We only stopped once on the way home and were back at Trinity by 8:30pm.
This was certainly a transformative trip for all of us. Our students came back inspired, they lost any sense of stereotypes of homeless and the poor, and they want to do more and more to help back home. I will be happy to oblige! Stay tuned.