Retired Philly police officer Rick Bowes and his family were officially told at mass on Sunday in Somerton that their family has been selected to greet Pope Francis when he arrives in Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 6.
Msgr. Joseph P. Garvin of St. Christopher Parish informed Bowes, his wife, son and two daughters about the honor. Msgr. Garvin will be with the family, who are members of St. Christopher's, at the Atlantic Aviation terminal when they meet Pope Francis.
"We all just really can't believe this is happening," Bowes said of himself, wife Bernadette, and kids Matthew, 12, Riley, 11, and Gabrielle, 9.
"We're going to be meeting the Pope, the vicar of God, and in my opinion, he's a future saint," he said. "I've met heads of state within Pennsylvania, but nothing can compare to meeting the Pope. Being Catholic, and all you've been taught your whole life -- he is God on Earth."
In essence, the Bowes will be the first people in Philadelphia who Pope Francis sees, according to World Meeting of Families organizers, and will present him with flowers.
Bowes said it's particularly exciting to meet Pope Francis because of "how forward thinking he is and bringing the church up to where it needs to be, in my opinion."
Bowes had to leave the force due to a wound he sustained while taking out the shooter who killed Officer Patrick McDonald in 2008.