Twelve high school students received a golden invitation from Bishop Dennis Sullivan to see Pope Francis celebrate Mass in New York’s Madison Square Garden on the evening of Friday, Sept. 25.
The students, two each from six Camden Diocesan high schools, are Cecilia Wigginton and Caroline Smith (Camden Catholic, Cherry Hill); Dan O’Shea and Katie Gerardi (Gloucester Catholic); Julia Dalzell and Tarryn Slattery (Holy Spirit, Absecon); Matthew Moleski and Madison Underwood (Paul VI, Haddon Township); Shane Leyden and Christina Michael (St. Joseph, Hammonton); and P.J. Bogle and Thomas Piro (Wildwood Catholic).
They will travel with a diocesan contingent, led by Bishop Sullivan, to the Hamilton train station, and continue to New York.
“It’s a once in a lifetime event,” said Caroline Smith, a junior at Cherry Hill’s Camden Catholic. “I’m proud to represent my school.”
Julia Dalzell and Tarryn Slattery, seniors at Holy Spirit in Absecon, are excited to be among thousands at Mass with the Holy Father, and know the day will create a lifetime of memories to share with their loved ones throughout the years.
The two are familiar with the pontiff’s message, and grateful for his presence in the United States.
“His visit will strengthen and re-affirm our faith,” Dalzell, the student council president, said.
Slattery, the school’s vice-president, says Pope Francis’ continuing call for “love and mercy is something we practice at the school” through various service opportunities.
“We carry on his mission and word.”
Dan O’Shea, a junior at Gloucester Catholic, sees the vibrancy the Holy Father has brought to the Catholic faith, especially among youth. “He really appeals to youth; I’m excited.”
His classmate, junior Katie Gerardi, agreed.
“We relate to him; he is a personable pope.”