Pope Francis arrived at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem to students' cries of excitement
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When Pope Francis arrived at Our Lady Queens of Angels School in East Harlem, students cried out "It's the Pope!" "We love you!" and "Hi Pope!"
Security could be heard in the background as one guard told a particularly excited group, "relax relax, relax."
NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis was welcomed to Our Lady Queens of Angels School in East Harlem to the cries of "We love the Pope!" Several bursts of "When the Saints come marching in" broke out among the students with several renditions including "When the Pope comes marching in."
After greeting officials, Pope Francis moved immediately to the children and shook hands, took selfies and laughed at the children's antics. The students began chanting "We love the Pope!" and one student's voice rang out above the throng as he cried, "He touched my hand!"
When the pontiff entered the classroom, he was greeted by several school officials and New York mayor Bill de Blasio and his family while students sang the "Prayer of St. Francis."
The pope was happy to hear the song and held a hand to his ear in the universal sign meaning "I can't hear you," prompting the chorus to rise in volume even as the room erupted in giggling students and laughing teachers.
A table for each school's student representatives were situated around the room with models, smartboard projects, and other forms of "Faith in Action." Our Queen Lady of Angels students had cardboard models showcasing stewardship and conservation, St. Ann showed community service and St. Charles Borromeo had a display with photos of students.
When Pope Francis reached the Smart Board, he was delighted to see a young student move an object across the screen. The pontiff immediately reached out and touched the board but struggled to get anything to move. Another young student reached out to help him and Pope Francis moved a small character across a river.
Two students presented Pope Francis with a Spiritual Bouquet -a book filled with spiritual gifts such as prayers, rosaries and offerings students wrote on paper and added to a book. The spiritual gift was one way to allow several hundred students to participate and bless the Holy Father.
Many explained their artwork with the help of Pope Francis' translator but several were able to explain in the pope's native Spanish. As Pope Francis departed the room, New York City's mayor went around hugging and encouraging the students who were blessed to meet the pope. Cardinal Dolan also thanked the students and staff, even playfully removing his cap to place on the head of an especially tall student, which elicited several laughs.
Following the classroom greeting, Pope Francis moved to the school's auditorium where 150 immigrants and refugees waited. Each was the beneficiary of Catholic charities by the Archdiocese of NY.
The elementary school's principal said immigration was such a big part of the school, so for the pope to come it was great.
Silence fell over the auditorium as they waited for the Pope to enter. When at last he finally did, the crowd released a quick burst of polite applause then fell silent as Pope Francis was immediately surrounded and greeted by several people. He was gifted a soccer ball by a pair representing unaccompanied refugees. The boys asked the pontiff who his favorite team and player was before taking a picture with him and showing off some tricks with the ball.
Other representatives approached the pontiff and announced themselves, their organizations and thanked the pope for his visit:
"Holy Father, welcome, we are migrants, united workers . we are proud to receive you at this time with our families, thank you for giving the time to come here and visit us, on behalf of immigrant workers here in NY and behalf of all immigrants we have these presents for you. This is a present on behalf of all of the workers who work here in the city of NY and who day after day fill the city, we are helping out, we are putting our contribution here in the United States. I'm going to give you a hug, this hug is on behalf of everybody here, the day workers."
"Please accept this book of our stories and dreams, more than a thousand people welcome you in NY"
"Hello Pope Francis, we are a group of mothers . this is a tablecloth, a replica of the tablecloths used today at mass, welcome."
"I would like you to bless this bracelet a mother gave me for her disabled daughter, thank you and bless the mother as well, thank you."
"Welcome, once again, Holy Father, you've met people from NY and people coming from all the US, Catholic Charities has received brothers, sisters, the repressed, poor, and also those with aspirations. We do it in the name of Jesus Christ, it gives us life. This cross we present to you is a symbol of the transformational work the Catholic church does together with the cross of Jesus Christ. Please accept with appreciation from all of us here."
After receiving the gifts and warm welcome, the Pope sat and listened as representatives of different groups came to recite Matthew 25:34-36. The recitation was given verse-by-verse first in English then in a variety of languages. Following the recitation, Pope Francis stood and delivered the following speech:
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"Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon. I'm very happy to be with you today, along with this big family which surrounds you. I see your teachers, your parents, and your family members. Thank you for letting me come and especially your teachers to forgive me for stealing a few minutes of their class time.
"Everyone is happy, I know. They tell me that one of the nice things about this school and about the work that is being done here is that some of the students here, some of you, come from other places and many from other countries, and that is nice.
"Even though I know that it is not always easy to have to move and find a new home, new neighbors, and new friends, it is not easy but one has to begin at the beginning it can be hard and tiring, right? Oftentimes you have to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, even a new climate. There is so much to learn and not just the work at school, but also many other things, like for example you were playing with your ball very well, the good thing is that we also make good friends, and this is very important.
"The good friends that we find will open new doors to us, will show their kindness to us, their friendship, their understanding and they try to help us so we do not feel like strangers, like foreigners. It is work being done by people who help us feel at home. Although sometimes our imagination takes us back to our homeland, but we find good people that help us feel at home.
"How nice it is to feel that school, that meeting places are a second home. This is not only important for you, but for your families, so school ends up being a big family for all. One, where together with our mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers and friends, we learn to help one another to share out good qualities, to work as a team, to play as a team, that's very important as well and to pursue our goals.
"Very near here, quite near here, there is a very important street named after a person who did a lot for other people,. I would like to recall this person with you, I'm talking about Rev. Martin Luther King. One day he said 'I have a dream.' He dreamt many people, many children would have many opportunities, his dream was that children like you could have access to education, he dreamt that many women and children like you can keep their head high with dignity to those who can earn their keep. Beautiful to have dreams and fight to have dreams. Don't forget about that.
"Today, we want to keep dreaming, we celebrate all the opportunities that enable you and us, the adults, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities.
"So many here that I've greeted and I've been introduced to, they also dream with you, they dream about this and that is why they become involved in this kind of work, they get involved in your lives to go with you on this kind of path. We all dream.
"I always know that one of the dreams of your parents and teachers, and of all those who help you and also Cardinal Dolans, he is a very good man, the dream is that you can grow up and live with happiness. Here I see you smiling, keep smiling and help bring joy to everyone you meet. It is not always easy, there are problems in all households there are difficult situations, there is sickness, but keep dreaming about living with joy.
"Everyone here, children and adults, you will have a right to dream and I am very happy that you, whether at school or here, you can dinf in your teachers and friends and everyone who comes near you, you can find the support you need to do it. Whereever there are dreams, weherever there is joy, Jesus is always present. Always.
"Now, who sows sadness? Who sows distrust and envy and evil desires? What's the name of that? The devil. The devil. The devil sows sadness because he does not want to see us happy, doesn't want us to dream. Where there is joy, Jesus is always present because Jesus is joy and he wants to help us to feel that joy every day of our lives.
"Before going, I would like to give you some homework. Can I do that? It is a simple request but very important. Please don't forget to pray for me so that I can share with many people the joy of Jesus. Let us also pray so that many people can share the joy, like yours, like when you feel accompanied, assisted, when you feel that you are getting advice, although there are problems of course, there might be problems but you have peace in your hearts because Jesus will never abandon you, so have peace everyone here and may the Lady protect you.
"Now, can you sing me something? Do you know how to sing?"
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The crowd responded, "yes we do."
Pope Francis asked, "Now, who is the boldest one?"
One woman stood and sang a beautiful song with the help of only a handful of others. At the conclusion of her song, the pontiff said, "Tank you, thank you very much" in Spanish and said "thank you very much" again in English.
"Altogether, one song and then we're all going to pray to the Lord, we're going to say our Lord's prayer. Sing something, yes,' Pope Francis requested. Apparently, no one prepared a group song so again, a woman sang among the crowd, after which the pope responded, "Thank you, now we're going to pray. All together, we're going to say the Lord's prayer."
He then bowed his head as the crowd recited the Lord's prayer. When the prayer was over, the pontiff lifted his head and said, "God almighty, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, pray for me. Don't forget the homework, eh?"
The audience laughed and applauded as the pope removed himself from the auditorium and stepped into his black Fiat.
In an interesting conclusion to his school visit, the pontiff held his hand out the window of the Fiat and flashed the crowd of students a peace sign, which was met with another "We love the Pope" chant and several happy cries.
Pope Francis was immediately taken to Central Park, where he entered his Jeep Wrangler Popemobile. As he made his way slowly through Central Park, crowds to either side of the street cried out in joy, cheering the pontiff and excitedly greeting the pope.
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