GREENVILLE — Pope Francis is set to begin his historic visit to this country on Tuesday, and the prayers of Darke Countians will be with him along the way.
“We have had prayers for the success for the pastoral visit to this country, and we continue to have those with each Mass,” said the Rev. John White, pastor at St. Marys Catholic Church in Greenville. “We have several families who are going to Philadelphia for the welcoming there.”
The pontiff’s six-day U.S. schedule includes stops in Washington, D.C., Phildelphia and New York City.
Pope Paul VI was the first papal visit to the United States, for just one day in 1965. He met with President Lyndon Johnson, addressed the United Nations and celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium.
The next papal visit was by Pope John Paul II in 1979, who visited Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Des Moines and Washington, D.C., during his weeklong stay. He returned to the U.S. several times during his tenure, including World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 and his final visit to St. Louis in 1999.
The most recent papal visit was Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. He visited New York and Washington, D.C., and spent his 81st birthday at the White House, prayed at Ground Zero and celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium, among his activities during his visit.
Pope Francis is due to arrive in Washington, D.C., the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 22, and will meet with President Barack Obama the following morning, followed by a parade, special prayer service and a Mass in the afternoon. The next day he will address a joint session of Congress and visit St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Catholic Charities while in the city, before flying to New York.
His New York City schedule begins with evening prayer Sept. 24 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. His visit will include addressing the United Nations, taking part in a service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and leading Mass at Madison Square Garden.
The pontiff goes on to Philadephia on Thursday, Sept. 26, where he will take part in Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, visit Independence Mass and visit the Festival of Families and participate in the Prayer Vigil with the World Meeting of Families.
On his final day, Friday, Sept. 27, Pope Francis will visit Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. He also will conduct a Papal Mass for the World Meeting of Families, and visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families before departing for Rome.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope March 13, 2013, taking the papal name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.
Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas (hailing from Argentina) and the first from the Southern Hemisphere. His tenure has been marked by his humility, egalitarianism and deep concern for the poor.
Editor’s Note: Any local residents who will be attending any papal events are invited to contact The Daily Advocate to share their story and photos.