EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — Pope Francis will make his first trip to the United States in September, and the Vatican released his itinerary for the visit Tuesday.
The Pope won’t be making an appearance in Rhode Island, but that isn’t stopping a group of 400 locals from traveling to Philadelphia to see the pontiff.
The trip is organized by one couple, who are being joined by members of the Rhode Island Diocese.
Keith and Lisa Kline only intended for half as many families to sign up to go, but now they have a waiting list.
Keith: “Phone after phone call, email after email.”
Lisa: “People don’t even want to know the details. They’re saying ‘Pope Francis is coming?’ We want to go.”
The group will be participating in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on September 27th.
Father Ryan Connors of Our Lady of Mercy Parish will be going with the group as well, and calls it “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“One prediction: he will encourage people to return to the sacrament of penance. We have a pope who is obsessed with mercy.”
Pope Francis has made headlines in his short time as pontiff by saying he doesn’t judge gay Catholics, and most recently for taking up the climate change debate earlier this month.
The Pope will conclude his visit in Philadelphia and travel to Cuba.
He added the Cuba trip to the end of his U.S. tour after playing a crucial role in the countries recent allied relations.