By ALEXANDRA SEMENOVA
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan introduced a group of both undocumented and legal immigrants who left their homes to seek asylum from poverty and persecution in a press conference at an East Harlem Church on Thursday morning, as they anticipated the arrival of Pope Francis on September 25th.
Sullivan said that these refugees are the “fabric of New York.” Many of the immigrants still struggle with English, including 14-year-old Chelsea Cruz who moved to New York City from Honduras with her mother and younger sister last year.
She attends Our Lady of Angels School in East Harlem. “I am excited for the Pope to visit my school,” said Cruz. Like Cruz, other churchgoers were honored that the pope is going to spend time with them.
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan said that the Pope’s upcoming visit to St. Cecilia’s Parish is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” that churchgoers, made up largely of Central American refugees like Chelsea Cruz, “will never forget.”
Sullivan said that St. Cecilia’s Parish is a principal location for the papal blessings.
The church, whose parishioners include many immigrants, seemed a particularly apt destination for this Pope, who has frequently voiced concern for the welfare and integration of immigrants and refugees and advocated for a humane solution for the migrant crisis in Europe.