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Local pilgrims depart for Philadelphia Papal visit

Hilary Farrell

More than 100 local Catholic pilgrims are on their way to join an expected two million people this weekend as part of the first U.S. visit by Pope Francis.

Aside from the sounds of buses, you hear excitement and happiness as travelers board in the early morning hours for Philadelphia.

“Or as they say, 'Pope-a-delphia.'”

Tina Marie Miller is a parish life ministry liaison at the Holy Family Parish in Caledonia.

“I assist in helping families a lot, in times of distress as well as in times of joy," Miller says. "So I’m going in order to bring back from the conference all the blessings to our parish.” 

Deacon JegarFickel is with St. Francis de Sales in Holland.

“I’m still in school, I was just ordained a deacon. I have a year until I’m ordained a priest," he says. "And so I just actually showed up last night, got three hours of sleep and now I’m here this morning.”

Fickel says the Papal message can apply to anyone, regardless of faith.

“Saying this isn’t something exclusive to Catholics. This is a vision we can all jump aboard on," he says. "The good will of all humankind. And everything he’s been talking about – protecting the environment, the dignity of people."

Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia on Saturday morning and departs for Rome on Sunday evening.

For those unable to attend the visit in person, the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids hosts live viewing parties of the Pope’s comments at the Festival of Families tomorrow evening at St. Isadore Parish in Grand Rapids and Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Holland.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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