New York CIty, meet the People’s Pope!
Septuagenarian superstar Pope Francis will receive a rock star’s welcome when he disembarks “Shepherd One” at John F. Kennedy International Airport next week (likely lugging his own bag), as part of a three-city apostolic trek to the East Coast, featuring a 40-hour spirit around Gotham that would leave Batman breathless.
Soon after landing, the 78-year-old pontiff — the fourth Pope to visit the U.S. — will hold a prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The next day he will speak at the United Nations, visit a Harlem school, and conduct services at the 9-11 Memorial and Museum.
Then it’s off to meet the adoring masses selected by lottery in a procession through Central Park on his way to Madison Square Garden to lead a Mass using a high-backed chair. Outside the venue spectators can admire a 20-story mural of His Holiness commissioned by the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Jessica Amato, a seventh grade English teacher at William McKinley Intermediate School in Bay Ridge, was among the tens of thousands of New Yorkers thrilled to snag a pair of coveted tickets to the procession.
“It’s a very special opportunity to see the Pope because he is a progressive, positive person who is for the people,” she said.
The icing on Amato’s cake was a huge “Pope” cookie she bought from Artuso Pastry Shop in the Bronx.
“I made a pilgrimage to the bakery especially for the papal treat,” she added of the super-sized confection frosted with a picture-perfect image of Francis.
Even New Yorkers unable to score a freebie were in seventh heaven.
“Just to know that the Holy Father is in town and that I am in the same air space as him is good enough for me,” said Brooklyn resident Lucia Wells, who plans to take the day off and catch all the action on cable television’s Pope channel.
‘Man of the people’
The popular pontiff, who drives a 1984 Renault and rails against global warming and consumerism, has gained worldwide fans of all stripes and faiths since his March 2013 inauguration as head of the Catholic Church, Bishop of Rome, Sovereign of Vatican City, and champion of the poor.
“I am a sinner,” he told some of his first audiences with his trademark pastoral style.
Francis has baptized the babies of single mothers and installed showers at the Vatican for the homeless, with whom he sometimes sits down to a meal. He commemorated the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper by washing the feet of inmates at the same Roman prison that Pope St. John Paul II visited in 1983 to forgive his attempted murderer, Mehmet Ali Agca.
The Pope will stay at the official residence of the Holy See mission on the Upper East Side. He has requested water and bananas in his room, and spartan meals of fish, chicken, and white rice.
Community News Group and New York Community Media extends its best wishes to Pope Francis, and sincerely hopes the Holy Father ventures across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Queens and the Bronx on his next visit!
Official New York schedule
Thursday, Sept. 24
• Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport, 5 pm.
• Evening prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 6:45 pm.
Friday, Sept. 25
• United Nations General-Assembly, 8:30 am.
• Multi-religious service at 9-11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center, 11:30 am.
• Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, 4 pm.
• Papal motorcade through Central Park, 5 pm.
• Madison Square Garden Mass, 6 pm.
Saturday, Sept. 26
• Departure to Philadelphia, 8:40 am.