Papal Visit Excites some along the Gulf Coast

Pope Francis arrived in Cuba Saturday and his next stop is the U.S. this week. He is scheduled to stop in Washington D.C. on Tuesday before heading to New York City and then Philadelphia. Even though the Pope isn’t traveling to the Gulf Coast doesn’t mean that the people that live here aren’t excited. In fact, some are making the trek north themselves. That includes some teachers from McGill High School.

“We’ve seen Pope John Paul II, we saw Pope Benedict, and now we’ll see Pope Francis,” said Cathleen Reilly, a McGill teacher who is traveling Philadelphia to see the Pope. “This is an opportunity for each of us to bring what we teach. It’s alive and real by seeing the man that we speak about.”

But this trip holds special meaning to them. “I teach about Francis a lot,” said Reilly. “He is to me, the pope that we need at this time in the history of our world.”

“People are like, ‘He’s a rockstar!’ He’s not a rockstar but he’s gotten people fired up, Catholics and non-Catholics. So that’s good. I mean, there’s going to be a lot of non-Catholics in all of this,” said Angel Helmsing, a McGill teacher who will be traveling to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia to see the Pope at several events.

Mobile’s Archbishop will also be in attendance when the Pope visits Philadelphia. “Pope Francis will, in a very special way, be speaking from the heart when he comes here,” said Archbishop Rodi. “Not only is he meeting with dignitaries, he’s meeting with prisoners. He’s meeting with the poor. He’s meeting with immigrants.”

The Archbishop hopes to bring back some of the word the Pope will share with local parishes. “I think the Pope will certainly be speaking about mercy, the mercy of God in a world that so often is merciless.”

It would be an understatement to say those traveling are looking forward to it. “Oh, I’m very excited!” said Archbishop Rodi. “This will be the Pope Francis’s first time to visit the United States. So not only will we be looking at him, he’ll be looking at us.”

“I’m excited to go and see the pope. This is my first time actually going to see, you know, a pope visit in the area where I am,” Edith Igwuilo, is traveling to see the Pope.

Even local Catholics that are not attending are intrigued.

“I hope to understand more of what he’s saying, some of the people have skewed some of the issues he is talking about,” said Michelle Harrison, who is not traveling to see the Pope. “I think that within the United States, when he talks about the different issues, we may be able to understand more with the translation.”

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