More than 1,000 pilgrims from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will be in Philadelphia to attend the World Meeting of Families Congress. But the bigger draw is the pontiff's first visit to the United States.
“I think that because Pope Francis is so humble and so genuine, a lot of people, not just Catholics, but so many people are eager to see him and to hear his message,” said Helene Paharik, associate general secretary of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
While Pittsburghers are in Philadelphia, Paharik said they plan on helping those in need.
“We were worried about the homeless in Philly, and we are partnering with a United Methodist Church in Philadelphia to provide dinner for the homeless of Philadelphia,” she said.
Guests will be staying in hotels in downtown Philadelphia, in health fitness centers, schools, gymnasiums, church basements and some in hotels as far away as Lancaster.
“We’re anticipating it is going to be a very exciting and wonderful to be with other families that are doing their best to walk God’s path,” said Becky Cascino, who attends St. Andrews in Butler.
Cascino, who left with her 12-year-old son Henry on Tuesday, said it won't be her first papal meet and greet.
“My husband and I had a wonderful opportunity," she said. "We went on our honeymoon to Rome and we were given a blessing, a hands-on bless, by St. Pope John Paul II.”
Pope Francis’ time in Pennsylvania will include a visit to Independence Hall, the Curran Fromhold Correction Facility to speak with inmates and Sunday mass.