Mexican Parishioners at Sunset Park Church Jubilant for Pope's Trip to Their Homeland
Pope Francis is known in the Spanish-speaking world as Papa Francisco. And while Francisco makes his historic trip to Mexico, some of the most enthusiastic New Yorkers are those of Mexican descent. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez reports from Brooklyn.
Spanish mass is celebrated at least six times a week at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in Sunset Park.
Thursday evening, parishioners braved the cold weather for a service marking The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a day of prayer for the sick.
Prayers for strength were also delivered for Pope Francis as he travels to Mexico. Mexicans at OLPH say the Pope's trip to their homeland in itself is a blessing.
"He goes to visit Mexico and everybody is happy," one man said.
"Very, very happy he's going over there, because Mexico right now they have too much problems, so yes, very happy," another said.
Friday, the Pope began his trip with a stop in Cuba. Then he'll spend nearly a week in the largest Spanish-speaking Catholic country in the world, with visits to San Cristóbal de las Casas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and Ecatepec.
The Pope will also visit Mexico City, Morelia, and Ciudad Juárez, a city on the U.S. border, where he will pray for those who died trying to cross.
Priests say he'll spend time in some of Mexico's poorest and most volatile communities to bring a message of solidarity.
And in the capital, Mexico City, he'll visit the shrine at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint.
"He says, 'I'm coming as a child before his mother. It's so wonderful to come to your mother's house.' I'm so moved when I heard him say that, when I saw him say that, because he's so human," Father James Gilmour of OLPH said.
"All those human emotions, he brings to the spirituality and to the Christian message that he preaches and that he celebrates," Gilmour continued.
Mexicans point out that although other pontiffs have traveled to Mexico, this trip is historic because Pope Francis is the first Latin American leader of the Catholic Church to visit.
"The Father Francisco speaks Spanish also, so we're happy," said an OLPH parishioner.
Most at the Sunset Park church said they won't be able to travel back home to witness history in person, but they plan to watch the momentous events on television.