(WVUE) - As Pope Francis reached out to thousands of people during his visit to the White House and his first-ever Mass on American soil, Archbishop Gregory Aymond is confident his message will find it's way to the Crescent City.
"This is an opportunity for us as a nation and the Archdiocese, to realize that the Pope came to us, not to New Orleans, but close enough, to Washington and he came with a message of mercy, he came with a message of Catholics come home," Aymond said.
Aymond had the opportunity to attend the Pope's midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. During that private event, Pope Francis addressed bishops from across the country encouraging them to reflect the mercy of Christ back home.
"The challenging message that we must continue to preach the gospel and preach it with integrity and with boldness at the same to reach out to the marginalized, those who are poor, those who are away from church, and care for them as a good shepherd would," Aymond said.
That's one reason why New Orleans' Catholic leader believes so many people flocked to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception to hear Pope Francis' message that transcend's faith.
"He appeals even to people who may not consider themselves religious for whatever reasons. A friend of mine who claims to be an athiest, she was telling me a couple of weeks ago, 'I just love our new Pope,' and it was 'our' new Pope, and I think that's exciting that he does appeal to people and I think God uses him to awaken in others a sense of God's presence," Aymond said.
The Pope now hopes to awaken that sense of God in the one place where Church is inherently separate, the Nation's Capitol, as he becomes the first Pope to address a joint session of Congress.