Hundreds of Minnesotans travel to see Pope Francis on his US tour


As Pope Francis makes his highly anticipated visit to the United States this week, hundreds of Minnesota Catholics are traveling to the East Coast to see him. Some will have a seat up close, while others are hoping for just a glimpse.

The pope arrived Tuesday afternoon in Washington DC, where he will make several public appearances before going to New York and Philadelphia over the next five days.

The last papal visit to the U.S. was made by Pope Benedict in 2008.

A few Minnesotans received official invitations to participate in various activities involving the pope, including:

  • Mary Jo Copeland, the head of Caring and Sharing Hands. She and her husband Richard will have a private meeting with Pope Francis Thursday at the Vatican Embassy in Washington DC.
  • Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede will be among the dignitaries at a welcoming ceremony for the pope at the White House Thursday morning. Brede was invited by the Obama Administration.
  • Ryan Currens of Burnsville was also invited by the White House to attend the ceremony, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Currens and Brede had both written letters to President Obama about the pope's positions on social issues. The White House chose a few letter writers from each state to attend the ceremony.

Other official guests

In addition, several members of Minnesota's congressional delegation have invited guests from their districts to join them for Pope Francis' address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

Here's the list of those who've been invited – and by whom – so far, according to the Star Tribune:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar's guest: Tim Marx, CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Sen. Al Franken: Jacquelyn Bernard of Pine City, the mother-in-law of one of his staff members

1st District Rep. Tim Walz: Sister Alice Zachmann of Mankato

3rd District Rep. Erik Paulsen: A staff member from his DC office

5th District Rep. Keith Ellison: Clida Ellison, his mother

6th District Rep. Tom Emmer: St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler; Michael Hemesath, president of Saint John's University; Mary Hinton, president of St. Ben's University

8th District Rep. Rick Nolan: Rev. Tim Wenzel, a retired priest who has served northern Minnesota for decades.

Hundreds of other Minnesotans are traveling to the East Coast to catch a glimpse of the pope – many are in tour groups arranged by parishes or dioceses, but some are going on their own.

The Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press and the Northland News Center have profiles of some of those people.

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