Locals prepare to head North for papal visit - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Locals prepare to head North for papal visit

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Pope Francis celebrated his first mass in Cuba Sunday. Massive crowds lined up for hours to catch a glimpse of the pontiff. Back here at home, a number of Catholics are getting ready to head North, where they hope to take part in the pope's historic visit to America.

Destrehan resident Melanie Saunee can't contain her excitement. “It will certainly be a trip of a lifetime, we are thrilled,” Saunee said.

She and her husband, along with their three young children, are leaving Monday for Philadelphia to see the pope. “We're just so privileged that he's coming here so that we can make pilgrimage to see him,” Saunee said.

The family booked their trip months ago. They say it's important for them to hear the pontiff's message first hand, but their work doesn't stop there. Saunee explains, “Part of the reason you go is so that you can bring back the message.”

Before Pope Francis travels to Philadelphia, he'll first visit Washington D.C. and then New York City. In the nation's capital, he'll speak before Congress. Archbishop Chapelle High School Principal John Serio will be there.

“It was a surprise to me that I even got the invitation, this was not something I planned,” Serio said.

Serio received a last minute invite from Senator Bill Cassidy. He says Pope Francis is one of the most influential leaders he's seen; one that is sure to have a strong message this week.

Serio says, “I think this is a transformative pope. I think we're seeing a pope that's bringing about a lot of change not in doctrine in the church, but in the humanity of the church.”

Thousands are expected to flock to the three cities the pope will visit. While bringing three small children into such an environment may seem a daunting task, Melanie Saunee says she and her husband are ready. “Hopefully things will all go smoothly and we can just make the most out of this,” Saunee commented.

Because what her kids will take away from this experience, they'll have for a lifetime.

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