Local students travel to Philadelphia for Pope’s visit

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AKRON, Ohio - With Pope Francis now on U.S. soil dozens of students from the University of Akron are preparing to travel to Philadelphia for the opportunity to see and hear the pope in person.

The Pope will be in Washington D.C. through Thursday.  He will then travel to New York where he will eat lunch with homeless people and then speak to the United Nations on Friday before travelling to Philadelphia for the weekend.

As the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis speaks for millions and as such, his words are extremely influential.

Students with the University of Akron Newman Center expect the experience of being that close to him to be one that will be very powerful.

"I think it's just going to be cool to see like the universal aspect of the church you know with one point five million other people there its just going to be cool to see like how big of a crowd a pope can draw and I keep seeing his picture but it will really be cool to be there," said Newman Center President Katie Brunbaugh.

"I think he brings a lot of morality into politics. I know he's meeting with a lot of politicians when he comes to the White House and then he's talking to Congress. I think that's going to have a lot of good impact in helping some of the politicians out  there understand that they really have to care about the people," said Thomas Kennedy.

"I hope it will have a positive impact, especially in the areas that he's wanted to touch on such as helping the poor and the environment and things such as that I just hope it will help spread the faith and show everyone how great it is," said Evan Fritz.

The pope will be speaking from Independence Hall in Philadelphia where his message could include a stand on immigration.  He has also been outspoken on issues such as economic equality and the environment.

Pope Francis also seen as a humble person who has lived modestly and urges Catholics to care for the poor.

"For starters a lot of young people, including Catholics, want to see somebody who is authentic, who is the real deal, who walks the talk who lives what they say. He does," said Fr. Norm Douglas of St. Bernard Parish in Akron, who interacts with the students as a campus minister.

"I personally like that my church will take a stand on issues because they aren't just going to sit by and let the world degrade in the climate sense and global warming but they are going to say what's right," said Brumbaugh.

The students also expect the trip to be deeply spiritual.

"I really don't know what to expect. I'm really excited. I really hope I will be able to take as much as I can from what he has to say and live it in my life when I get back," said Helena Carlson.

"I think the first thing I think of is hope, honestly," added Kennedy.  "If we look at society today it's not as faith-based as it used to be, and I think as I go to see the pope with a hundred other people it's going to be a great opportunity to live my faith and be able to practice it with other people who are my age."​

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