Catholic community gears up for Pope Francis

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham area Catholics are commemorating the Pope’s upcoming visit to Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia in a number of ways.

Students from John Carroll Catholic High School and Holy Family Cristo Rey High School took part in a service project cleaning up the area around the Legion Field.

Father John McDonald of John Carroll Catholic High School says it was a fitting way to honor the service oriented Pope who has called on Catholics to serve those in need.

McDonald says they’re using the papal visit as a teaching opportunity.

“I think the holy father is asking us to commemorate his visit by extending ourselves a little bit to those in need, or a lot to those in need. I think he would love to know the young people have gone out into the community to do a special kind of service in his honor rather than rather than simply to stay in their schools or stay in their communities and have other celebrations or commemorations of his visit. I think it will be pleasing to him that they went out to do some to do something significant better to better their own community,” said McDonald.

Irondale-based Catholic television cable network EWTN is covering the visit of Pope Francis at each destination along the way. This year, that included Cuba.

“It’s very big because obviously there are many Cuban-Americans as well as obviously the Pope is visiting Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, Washington DC to meet with the president and with Congress, New York of course he’ll be there at the United Nations. So it’s a pretty big week for us,” EWTN VP of Theology, Colin Donovan.

“It is of course a recent phenomenon that a Pope will come while sitting as Pope to the United States. That is always, always a very big thing. It’s big this year because like 93′ when we had the World Youth Day in Denver, the World Meeting of Families is drawing people from all around the world. So it’s not just highlighting a papal visit to the United States, it’s highlighting in ecclesiastical event for the entire church.”

As our nation’s leaders prepare to greet Pope Francis on Tuesday, the Mayor of Birmingham is working behind the scenes to bring him to Birmingham in 2016.

Mayor William Bell says Birmingham is an excellent choice to host Pope Francis, because of the role it has played in the struggle for civil rights and human rights.

“You know when you look at what took place back in the 1960’s Birmingham was the catalyst for the Civil Rights Bill, it was the catalyst for the Voting Rights Bill, it was the catalyst that changed human rights movements around the world in particular in places like South Africa,” said Bell.

Mayor Bell says he’s been building working to build connections between the Magic City and the Vatican. Bell was invited to speak at a conference in Vatican City back in July. He has also been invited to see Pope Francis in New York later this week.

“The fact that we are included in so many things means that they hear us, they are listening, and hopefully that will result in a papal visit or at least recognition of the role that Birmingham has played,” said Bell.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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