Ever since he started attending Catholic schools three years ago, nine year-old Parker Langdon has wanted to be a priest. “He asked my mom to make him vestments, and he’d set up the altar, and get cups, and he wanted hosts, so he’s loved to do that with his cousins and for the neighbors,” said his mother, Jordan Langdon. When he’s visiting his grandparents, Parker also likes to invite people over and “say Mass” and give homilies, she said. Oh, and Lincoln, his three year-old brother? “He’s ‘Deacon Lincoln,’” said his father, Josh Parker. “It’s been quite a surprise to us and very touching, and something he’s maintained an interest in, so we want to support his interests as far as we can,” Jordan added.
(Parker and his mother, Jordan Langdon. Credit: CNA). So when the Langdon’s found out about Pope Francis’ trip to the United States, they shared the news with their son. “My dad told me about how he was going to come, and he asked me if I wanted to go and I said yeah!” Parker recalled. “But then I found out I had to raise the money, which I thought it was going to be a little hard. But it was sort of hard and sort of easy.” The Langdon family put their heads together and formed a committee to raise the money — more than $3,000 — that would be necessary to send Parker and an accompanying parent to the World Meeting of Families trip with the Archdiocese of Denver, which concludes with Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia. Parker was the committee head, Dad was treasurer — “He’s good with charts”, said Parker, and Mom was secretary — “She helped to do stuff like write out things and all the stuff for us to get ready for the trip.” “I had to write out an agenda, because we had our own little meetings to communicate with each other to see what was going to happen,” Parker said. He also drafted a letter to send out to friends and family, asking for donations for his trip: It was slow going at first. The letters didn’t come pouring back right away like Parker had expected. “My first donation was from me, and so I had $57 at the time, so I put that toward the trip, so I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” he said. “But once I started getting money and getting letters, I thought ok we’re making progress here.” At first, Josh and Jordan were nervous about what would happen if Parker couldn’t raise all the money. They started coming up with contingency plans for making up the difference. But once the word spread, the campaign gained some serious traction. The whole project became a lesson in gratitude and generosity for the Langdon family, Josh said. “I was having a network meeting with another business man who’d never met Parker,” Josh said. “We were at lunch just talking about (the trip), and towards the end of lunch he just slid $200 in cash across the table and said, ‘Tell Parker to have a great time.’” Josh said the people of their parish, Our Lady of Loretto in Aurora, Colo., including Knights of Columbus Council 12336 and the Men of Faith group, have been overwhelmingly supportive and generous. Handwritten thank-you notes were sent to each donor, as well as a promise of gifts from the trip. Once the funds were raised and the trip was a clear “go”, the Langdons began preparing in other ways. Nine days before the trip, they began praying the Divine Mercy novena, and getting their packing lists together. “Parker’s thinking about snacks, of course,” said Jordan, “He’s packing a backpack full of beef jerky.” And his binoculars, for prime papal viewing. They’ve also been preparing to travel with a group that’s quite a bit older. “There’s one other family that has a few kids going, and then everyone else is quite a bit older,” Jordan said. “So Parker and I have been talking about preparing ourselves mentally for what that means to go on a pilgrimage with people that are older, and that we might have some sacrifices to make and help them along the way.” During the trip, Jordan said she’s looking forward to seeing Pope Francis in person and to watching Parker’s reaction to seeing the Pope. Parker said, besides the plane rides, he’s most excited for the Papal Mass and seeing Pope Francis in action. “I really want to be the Pope someday, I kind of want to be a priest, so I thought maybe I could see him, see what kind of things he does.”