East Harlem Students ‘Very Excited’ for Pope Francis’ Visit

In one month, Pope Francis will visit Our Lady Queen of Angels school in East Harlem, and the kids are already pretty excited. 

"I'm very excited," one boy politely emphasized. 

OK, they're very excited. 

The adults are, too. Archdiocese Superintendent Tim McNiff set the table -- and the tone -- for the pope's visit. 

"We see ourselves as the doorway out of poverty to a better life that this country offers people," he said. 

Before Pope Francis walks through the doors of the school, he will be greeted by hundreds of students from other Manhattan schools on the street. But once he's inside, just 24 lucky third- and fourth-graders chosen by lottery will get to talk to him.

Noah Rodriguez couldn't wait to tell his parents when he learned he was selected. 

"'My baby's gonna see the pope!'" he recounted his parents saying. "I'm like, 'What did I get myself into." 

Yes, there's a lot of pressure.

"The first time I heard of it, butterflies were in my stomach, flying around," said a young girl. 

Another was already steeling herself for the momentous occasion.

"It's maybe a one-time opportunity and we shouldn't be scared inside because it's meeting the pope," she said. 

Of course, the kids have questions for the pope.

"I was going to ask him three questions," said one boy named Benjamin. The most important? The young Barcelona soccer fan wants to know why his fellow Argentian roots for another team. 

"'Why do you like San Lorenzo?'" he plans to ask. 

So many questions, so little time. Joanne Walsh, the principal at Our Lady Queens of Angels, watched with her class when Pope Francis was elected. 

"When they announced that it was going to be Pope Francis -- this school was founded by Franciscans -- a roar went up," she said. 

"I'm going to guess when he gets out of that car, he'll have a smile on his face, and I'm going to promise you, when he leaves, that smile will be even bigger," said McNiff.

Contact Us