The long-anticipated week is here. For months, American Catholics and non-Catholics have awaited the arrival of Pope Francis for his first-ever trip to the United States.

At press time, he was traveling from Cuba to Washington, DC on Tuesday for a host of meetings and official events, including an address to Congress, a meeting with President Barack Obama and a mass celebrating the canonization of Junipero Serra.

From Washington, DC, the pope was expected in New York City to visit a school, take part in a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial, address the United Nations, process through Central Park and say mass at Madison Square Garden.

And then it’s our turn. He’ll spend the weekend in this area.

Pope Francis

As more than 200,000 Catholics and non-Catholics living in Delaware County experience the 2015 World Meeting of Families and the visit by Pope Francis this weekend, the 38 Delaware County parishes and multitude of area grammar and high schools are marking the papal visit in unique ways.

In addition to attending mass and watching the pontiff on television, schools such as Drexel Neumann Academy (DNA) in Chester will mark the historic occasion in a very special and unique fashion.

Sr. Maggie Gannon, OSF, president of DNA, said unlike other elementary schools in Delaware County, her school will be open.

“We are having a dress down day and asking the children to wear white in honor of Pope Francis,” said Sr. Maggie. “Our students are also being encouraged to donate what they can to the local food cupboard. Our children will also watch a video about St. Francis of Assisi and in the afternoon enjoy “popecorn,” “popesicles” and poperini pizza.”

“This truly is a graced moment for the entire United States,” Sr. Maggie said. “We at (DNA) feel honored to be able to share this blessed experience.”

DNA also has strong ties to the event as Board of Trustees Chairman H. Edward Hanway, a retired Cigna executive who lives in Media, is a cabinet member of the World Meeting of Families. Hanway was also named by Cardinal Charles Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, as chairman of the independent Faith in the Future Foundation.

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