Who are we?
Pop Up Pope is a joyful band of Catholics promoting Catholicism and Pope Francis visit to the USA. In addition to proclaiming excitement about the papal visit to Philadelphia, we have been called to “take to the streets” by Pope Francis and deliver Jesus’ message to people outside the walls of a church. Our new evangelization includes the use of social media, specifically Instagram and Twitter, and a life-size cardboard likeness of the Holy Father. We enjoy taking to the physical and digital street to spread messages of hope and joy.
What do we hope to achieve?
Aside from spreading the news about the Pope’s visit and World Meeting of Families, we wish to spread the Gospel message to the poor, lost and forgotten. We want them to know God loves them no matter what. Our goal isn’t to preach to the choir. Of course we love talking to fellow Christians and Catholics, and catechist, Paul Tanner, has the ability to dive deeper into doctrine and the Bible. No matter what faith tradition someone has, or if they have no tradition, we simply to make a personal connection with people on the street and reassure the ones who have lost faith, don’t believe in God or feel alone on the path of life that they aren’t as alone as they think.
If our presence on the street can reach one lost soul and make just one person feel less alone and more loved, we know we’re doing God’s work. Loving other human beings isn’t rocket science. Anyone can do it.
Why Pop Up?
The life-size cardboard of Pope Francis is light, easy to carry and “pops up” suddenly or unexpectedly. Like the cardboard cut-out, we plan to “Pop Up” in urban areas in and around the metropolitan Philadelphia area to engage Catholics, non-Catholics and non-believers in conversation about love, faith and hope. Since Pope Francis inspires so many, including us, we want to tap into his mojo in order to help serve others the way Jesus has called us to do…on the streets.
What led us to launch Pop Up Pope?
Talking in Christa’s kitchen one night we were discussing the Pope’s historic visit to the Philippines. We asked ourselves, what if 6 million people came to Philadelphia? It was out of that conversation we came up with the idea of evangelizing with a cut out image of the Pope in order to help spread the word of about the Holy Father’s visit to Philadelphia. – Paul Tanner
We were inspired by a variety of things. The news of the Holy Father’s visit to the United States for the World Meeting of Families 2015 was the spark that set our little mission on fire. I learned about Pope Francis’ visit within days of returning from seeing him in Rome, with my favorite Capuchin friar, Br. Ronald Giannone, OFM CAP, during a General Audience. I was already inspired by Pope Francis because of his message, the name he took (I went to St. Francis of Assisi grade school in Philly suburbs) and because of his genuine loving presence. Being so close to him in Rome was a blessing. He truly exudes joy and I could feel it! Due to my personal experience in Rome I wanted to somehow be a part of spreading the message about the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia. I figured if Pope Francis can bring 10% of the energy he gave me in Rome to Philadelphians, my beloved hometown, then Philly will receive a greatly needed boost of joy, hope and love. Who doesn’t need more of that? – Christa Scalies
What does Pop Up Pope do?
We do street evangelization with the cardboard pope on the street in Wilmington mostly but also Philly. We talk to passersby, wave, allow them to take photos (or we take them for them), pray with them, listen to their stories, pass our card about the Pope’s visit to Philly, offer take-away Bible quotes and tweets by Pope Francis (we cute them out ahead of time and put them in a jar for people to take).
We ask people what they think of the Holy Father. We ask people their name, where they are from and if they’ve heard about the pope’s visit to the United States. Some people will engage with us, shake our hands and even hug us. Some people will walk by and make the sign of the cross in front of the pope to show respect. Some people walk by and pretend we don’t exist. On one occasion we had a Muslim man very upset about our presence. We tried to find common ground with him and hope we were able to explain despite his perception of us. We respected his difference of opinion and wished him well.
In addition to our work on the street work we also curate photos other people take of themselves with Pope Francis. People all over the world take these photos. It’s pretty spectacular to see how much people love him. We look for photos posted on Twitter and Instagram mostly and include photos on our website to reflect the love and admiration people have for Pope Francis. Although most of us would love a photo with the real pope, some of us have to settle for the cardboard version.
We encourage people to follow Pope Francis on Twitter and to listen to his message. We ask they pray for his health, safety and for the flock he guides. We also encourage them to think about participating in World Meeting of Families, whether in person or at least via social media.
In the News
We are honored our little project made it into local, national and international news. We hope people who read about us get inspired to “take to the streets” in some way and offer love, hope and joy to others in need.
Or…post your photo of you posing with your own #PopUpPope. Let’s share the love and joy our faith and Holy Father brings to the world. May God Bless you!
We Support World Meeting of Families
We encourage people from around the world to participate in the World Meeting of Families 2015 and witness Pope Francis’ historic visit to Philadelphia September 26 – 27th, 2015. Your donation to World Meeting of Families is encouraged. If you cannot donate and live in the Philly area, we encourage you to host pilgrims from outside the area.
Please Pray for Pope Francis
As always, we encourage people of all faiths, or even people of no faith, to keep the Holy Father in your prayers and thoughts as he travels the world bringing comfort, joy and guidance to people of every age, religion, orientation or affiliation.
We love you Papa Francesco and can’t wait to have you on US soil!