Catholic Charities to welcome Pope to America

A seemingly unending procession of Roman Catholics are already queueing up to meet Pope Franciswhen he visits the United States for the first time.

The long line of potential spectators includes celebrities, and average citizens willing to wait extended hours in order to get a glimpse of the papal apostle from Rome during the six days he is slated to address faithful believers and even some non-believers in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City.

“We are thrilled that the Holy Father is visiting the United States,” Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of New York said.

Hosted here by Catholic Charities, the Pope will be the guest of an agency that aims to provide a vast array of human services, including protecting and nurturing children and youth, feeding the hungry, and sheltering the homeless, strengthening families and resolving crises, supporting the emotionally and physically challenged, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees.

“Our country and New York City in particular, has long been a beacon to those tired and oppressed who seek a better life,” Monsignor Sullivan explained. “The Pope’s visit with recipients of Catholic Charities’ work; reflects the importance of charity and also recognizes the generosity that is a tradition of the United States.”

The Holy See is slated to arrive here on Sept. 25 and a cross section of people who have benefitted from the services provided by Catholic Charities will be accommodated and blessed with admission to Madison Square Garden when he conducts a mass at mid-town.

Already confirmed to attend the mass gathering are a group of immigrant carpenters who have been chosen to build the altar where the papal leader will speak. Also among the chosen are Honduran women who are now busy embroidering cloths that will be used to drape the altar.

The Hondurans represent the indigenous, immigrant Garifunos who reside in the Bronx.

Another group identified to be “Dreamers” — immigrants brought here as children by their parents in search of opportunities for a college education — will also receive special blessings.

A number of undocumented children and their parents or guardians are also assured a place among the 24,000 expected to attend the ticketed religious service.

And Dominican immigrant families in Washington Heights and the Bronx are also slated to participate in the special ceremony.

Those Spanish-speaking children are registered in the after-school and summer programs that are part of Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division.

Representing individuals that work with Catholic Charities, as well as those selected to meet with and be blessed by the Pope; day laborers from Yonkers, Port Chester and Westchester – some represent a sewing group who will make linens and others who are building chairs for the mass at MSG, immigrant mothers from Yonkers and East Harlem, a Bronx soccer team of undocumented teenagers, an East Harlem mothers group, unaccompanied youth fleeing persecution in Central America, and, refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

Anticipation is high for at least a viewing of the world’s most known religious disciple during the brief time he will spend in NYC.

Although the sum total hours amount to 36, a multitude remains optimistic that they will be able to see him when he stops by the museum at Ground Zero to view remnants from the September 11 terrorist attack; visit an East Harlem school, and address the General Assembly at the United Nations.

The flock will also be able to see the Argentina-born, South American when he visits St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

To the large venues a lottery of tickets distributed by parishes will enable 3,500 to the Fifth Avenue church and 24,000 when he goes to MSG.

“Pope Francis’ message of charity has resonated with people throughout the world,” he said.

On his very first visit to the United States, he is expected to make the White House his first stop before making history as the first papal leader to face a joint meeting of the House of Representatives. In Washington D.C. he will reportedly address members of the senate and congress.

In honor of the Pontiff’s visit to the United States from Sept. 22 to 27, Catholic Charities of New York launched a new digital site where people throughout the country, regardless of religious beliefs, can share a greeting with the Pope along with a message of charity.

Among the first to share welcome messages are: talk show host, Stephen Colbert, filmmaker Ken Burns, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, the New York Yankees, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, actress Whoopi Goldberg, Nancy Pelosi, television talk show hosts Carson Daly and Rosanna Scotto, and former news anchor Tom Brokaw, Police Commissioner William Bratton, former Mayor David Dinkins, and Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein.

Members of the public can upload their video — or a simple text message or photograph — by visiting the site and following the online instructions.

A collection of these messages will be shared with the Pope when he visits next month.

In addition to asking people to share a brief welcome, Monsignor Sullivan is encouraging those participating to include a Biblical verse in their message.

He quoted words of charity from the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, verse 31 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Pope Francis is the fourth pontiff to visit the USA.

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