Pastor Timothy Johansen hosted 200 visitors from New Mexico and Amarillo, Texas at his Temple Lutheran Church over the weekend for Pope Francis’ visit.
Located at 501 Brookline Blvd. in Havertown, Johansen’s congregation was on a list of churches willing to host pilgrims arriving for the historic visit from the pontiff.
Johansen’s guests, who set out for Philadelphia after 9 a.m., Saturday, and did not return until late in the night, were from a denomination called the Neo-Catechumenal Way in Amarillo and New Mexico that is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Johansen made breakfast and coffee for his guests early Saturday morning as they were settling in.
He said he didn’t know who was coming until Friday, but that he should prepare for 200 guests.
Prepare he did.
In fact, the church filled two refrigerators with food; chicken, pork loin, turkey, a log of provolone cheese, two cardboard boxes full of eggs, vegetables, coffee and more.
A deli slicer in the church’s kitchen would be used for cutting the meat and cheese for sandwiches.
Some visitors came with their families while others traveled solo, but they all traveled together as members of the same denomination in vans.
Antonio Barba, from Amarillo, came with six of his children. His wife had to stay home, because she just had another child two days earlier.