Excitement builds ahead of Pope’s visit

By: By Erin Smith - erinsmith@civitasmedia.com

ELIZABETHTOWN— As many folks are busy preparing for the visit of Pope Francis, for one Catholic priest, the visit means a pilgrimage to Philadelphia, Pa.

Father Michael Hernandez of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Elizabethtown said he, along with about 200 fellow Catholics from the region, including Charlotte and Wilmington, are preparing to travel to Pennsylvannia to hear the Pope speak.

Hernandez said this is an exciting time for members of the Catholic faith.

“As a priest, a spiritual leader, it means a lot to me,” said Hernandez of the visit.

He added that people in the church he ministers are excited about the Pope’s visit as well.

“I spoke to the congregation about it (the Pope’s visit) last week,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez said he did have the opportunity to meet Pope Benedict once but he has not met Pope Francis. He added this will be the first time he has attended a mass lead by Pope Francis in person and he is looking forward to the event.

When asked what he hopes to hear from Pope Francis, Hernandez said he hopes to hear a message of peace and unity.

He added that this a time of great pride among members of the Catholic faith.

He said that during the Pope’s visit there will also be activities that families can take part in before the 4 p.m. mass. Hernandez said there will be some concerts by various artists.

The Pope’s six-day visit will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 22, when he will arrive in the United States. The Pope will visit Washinton, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. According to USA Today, some highlights of the Pope’s visit will include a visit to the White House, addressing the US Congres, addressing the United Nation, leading a procession through Central Park, hold mass at Madison Square Garden, a visit to Independence Mall, as well as holding mass at the World Meeting of Families.

An official schedule of Pope Francis’ visit can be found at popefrancisvisit.com.

Sirius-XM Radio will carry coverage of Pope Francis’ visit on Channel 129. According to a release from Siriusxm, the station will be providing around- the- clock coverage of the Pope ‘s visit including his mass at the World Meeting of Families.

Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Erin Smith