Anthony Macolino has been deaf and disabled since he contracted meningitis at just 4 months old. This morning, his mom and grandma were making their way toward Mass on the Parkway, a bit misty-eyed when asked what this pilgrimage would mean to the 19-year-old and his devoted family, all of whom live in or near Coatesville, Chester County.
"Just the fact that there are all these people here and he's accepted," said mom Colleen Macolino, 44. The women describe themselves as Catholic, if not rigorously so. "It's tough. The commitment," Colleen said. "The rules," added her mom. But seeing the pope in the flesh? That is something altogether unquantifiable.
"With Anthony, who has special needs, to be able to do this with him, and he has no understanding of this person," mom explained. "He sees him on TV and he signs 'pope'. But that's it." But that's actually not just it. Because last night, as Francis passed Anthony during a parade along the Parkway, Anthony got animated. He couldn't see the pontiff or hear the cheering of crowds all around him. But he started wriggling around in his wheelchair. Mom saw what she needed to see. Mission accomplished. #popeinphilly
A photo posted by Maria Panaritis (@panaritism) on Sep 27, 2015 at 9:03am PDT