Pope Francis delivers special message at mass of canonization fo - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Pope Francis delivers special message at mass of canonization for Serra

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Pope Francis celebrated a mass of canonization of Junipero Serra with about 35,000 people on Wednesday. (WFSB) Pope Francis celebrated a mass of canonization of Junipero Serra with about 35,000 people on Wednesday. (WFSB)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WFSB) -

Wednesday was whirlwind day for Pope Francis on the first leg of his United States tour in Washington, DC.

Besides hundreds of thousands of people, who flocked to see him parade through the Nation’s Capital, the leader of the world's 1.6 billion faithful Catholics had a message today for all.

Pope Francis celebrated a mass of canonization of Junipero Serra, who is a Franciscan just like him, who founded nine missions in California.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Holy Father was officially greeted by President Barrack Obama. Thousands of people and politicians waded through tight security and standing for hours on the south lawn of the White House before dawn. They were there to witness the pope's message to the free world.

"As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families,” Pope Francis said.

Late Wednesday morning as the Holy Father held a midday prayer with US bishops and cardinals at the cathedral of St. Mathew. Thousands gathered at the National Shrine for the Canonization of Junipero Serra, which was led by Pope Francis.

"Just to see the liveliness of the Catholic Faith here in the United States in-spite of Blessed Serra and what he did to bring the Catholic faith to immigrants,” Glen Dmytryszyn, who is a seminarian from Wethersfield, said.  

"He's telling us all to reach out and to love our neighbor. Go to the fringe of society and to show love and mercy to all we meet,” Sister Anne Walsh at the Sacred Heart Church in Hamden. 

The heat and dehydration taxed many who sat in the sun for hours waiting for the start of the Mass at the Basilica. With 35,000 people outside, Catholic University students such as Mathew Green, of Stamford, provided guidance.  

Green said the Pope told the crowd “just to love everyone” and “to love people, love animals to be a good person."

Catholic University sophomore Dan Hackings also volunteered his time to make sure everyone is seated before the mass. He helped escort religious during communion.

"Guiding the deacons to where they're supposed to be for communion and showing them, making sure everyone consumes the Blessed Sacrament,” Hackings said.

 The grounds of Catholic University were packed to capacity with the highest security elements above and all around to protect the pope and the crowd.

"We have the first Hispanic saint in the United States,” Andrew Walther with the Knights of Columbus in New Haven said. “This is something that people are going to remember. That brings a lot of life to the church."

As the leader of the world's Roman Catholics leads the faithful in prayer and celebration, the love for Francis was evident.

"I love his line ‘who am I to judge,’” Stamford resident Angela Swift, who is an alumni of the Catholic University, said.  “And I think if we were all kinder, gentler and non-judging community, it would be a better place to live."

 The Holy Father will leave Washington, DC on Thursday, but not before a busy day of activities including speaking to the joint session of the US Congress.

Pope Francis will continue his tour in New York City and Philadelphia on the weekend. Eyewitness News be right there with him through the whole tour.

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