A group of Catholic faithful from Hawaii is gearing up for a trip to Philadelphia next week. They’re headed east to see Pope Francis.
Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia Sept. 26. A million people or more are expected to fill the parkway for his Sept. 27 Mass, including the head of Hawaii’s Catholic Church.
“It’s exciting. I saw him in Brazil for World Youth Day and found his talks very uplifting,” said Bishop Larry Silva of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.
The bishop and nine others are traveling as a group.
“Our group is going for a week-long conference called the World Meeting of Families about how to strengthen marriage and family,” said trip host Kristina Deneve.
When they bought the tickets, the pope’s attendance wasn’t confirmed.
“There were only rumors maybe, possibly the pope could be coming, so no we didn’t know about it at first,” Deneve said.
If you’re not attending the conference, tickets to the pope’s various appearances were offered online, first come, first served. Those tickets sold out in seconds or minutes.
The Catholic Diocese says it’s aware of about two dozen people from Hawaii flying up to see the pope.
“Pope Francis has a special appeal to all people. I look forward to his message of hope, mercy, love to all people,” Silva said.
Though for faithful like Deneve, the conference itself and the solidarity with other Catholics is a large enough blessing.
“It’s great the Holy Father’s there but it’s more than that. It’s about all of us,” she said.
A Hawaii artist will be there with a special gift for His Holiness.
Dale Zarrella will present a bronze statue of saint marianne to Pope Francis in Washington D.C.
Zarrella says this is one of the greatest honors he’s every received.
“I feel it’s just such an honor for the pope to be getting this on behalf of all the people of Hawaii, all the people at Kalaupapa and also the bishops of the United States and I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” he told KHON2.
This isn’t the first time Zarrella has had a brush with a pope.
He personally delivered a statue of Saint Damien to Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict.
That statue’s now on display at the Vatican.
The pope starts his visit in the U.S. on Sept. 22 and visits Washington D.C. and New York before going to Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27. After that, he’ll return back to the Vatican.
Oceanic Time Warner Cable will launch a special Papal Visit Channel on Sunday, Sept. 20, starting at 2 a.m. for customers on channel 199 and on HD channel 1199.
The channel will launch with a telecast of Pope Francis’ Sunday Mass at Havana Revolution Square in Cuba at 3 a.m. Hawaii time.
The channel will provide seven days of dedicated, wall-to-wall coverage of Pope Francis’ visit, including all his public appearances, masses, and speeches shown live in their entirety until his departure on Sept. 27.