Pilgrims make sacrifices to be in Philly for World Meeting of Families

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 John Cascino and Becky Cascino show their Pittsburgh pride at a welcoming reception for pilgrims in Philadelphia. (Marielle Segarra/WHYY)

John Cascino and Becky Cascino show their Pittsburgh pride at a welcoming reception for pilgrims in Philadelphia. (Marielle Segarra/WHYY)

“Even in spite of the fact that people are physically tired, [and] they’re hurting, they still want to be here.”

Becky and John Cascino from Butler, Pennsylvania badly wanted to bring their six children to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. But the trip just wasn’t in the family budget.

So Becky Cascino said her family took an old Utz pretzel container, slapped a prayer and a picture of Pope Francis on the front and started saving little by little.

“When our boys mowed the neighbors’ lawn and got a little bit of money, they put that in,” she said. “The girls did some baby-sitting and put that in. Our 4-year-old stopped us one day in the summer and said we cannot go out for ice cream, we have to put that money in the pope jar!”

The family also held a garage sale, and when they still hadn’t saved quite enough, the Pittsburgh Diocese paid for the rest of the trip.

For other visitors, this weekend will be physically difficult. Ann Scanlon, also from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, uses a wheelchair. It can be hard for her to get around in big crowds, and she has to get up at the crack of dawn because it takes her hours to get ready in the morning.

“I can’t just throw on my clothes, I need help,” Scanlon said. “So it takes a little bit longer to go. But I’m so glad I’m here.”

The Rev. Mike Ackerman said many pilgrims are happy to make these sacrifices.

“Even in spite of the fact that people are physically tired, [and] they’re hurting, they still want to be here,” Ackerman said. “They not only want to see Pope Francis, but they [also] want to celebrate faith and have a deeper experience of it.”

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