With Pope Francis set to visit New York City later this year, local charities are hoping to get a piece of the people’s pontiff.
The pope will visit the U.S. for one week in September, attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, with stops in D.C. and New York. He is expected to visit the United Nations and Ground Zero, and perhaps say mass at Madison Square Garden.
The notoriously unpretentious pope, appointed in 2013, has quickly risen as a crusader for the world’s poor and disadvantaged.
“When a pope comes to visit in New York, there’s excitement. But with Pope Francis, it will be excitement on steroids,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “I think this pope has created such excitement because of what he’s done to enable the world to understand the basic goodness of the message of Jesus … the world is taken by his ability to communicate this.”
Sullivan said soup kitchens, as well as centers that help immigrants and refugees acclimate to life in New York would be the best place for the pope to visit to “get a good understanding of some of the hurting.”
“Some of the most vulnerable people do have to go to food pantries for a basic nutritious meal, and it’s one of the better places to see how the church is reaching out to the poorest,” Sullivan said.
“We’ve been saying, how can we get him to come and see, and somehow just be in touch with some of the people we minister to,” said Elena Miranda, a spokesperson for Sisters of Charity New York. The organization has numerous social services and outreach programs in New York City.
“Every single Catholic organization in the northeast is thinking the same thing,” Miranda added.
“He’s totally into social justice, so people feel it,” Miranda said. “His kindness to people is palpable, and I think this visit will surpass any previous from a pope in the United States.”