Rep. Richard Neal inviting high school students to see Pope in D.C.

More than a million people from across the country and around the world will travel to three U.S. cities this week, hoping to get a glimpse of Pope Francis.

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hundreds of western Massachusetts parishioners will embark on a modern day pilgrimage this week, to see the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Congressman Richard Neal wanted to make sure students would be there when Pope Francis speaks to Congress Thursday; he gave 30 of his tickets to western Mass. Catholic youth.

“To accompany a congressman to Washington, D.C. To hear the pope address Congress is an incredible opportunity. I’m very excited and very grateful we were given this opportunity,” said St. Mary’s junior Will Lucardi.

With his humble, accepting, and warm way, Pope Francis has caught the attention of those of all faiths and all ages.

“We really discuss him in school and are up to date on what he says. You become more experienced in your faith. He’s welcoming. He understands us. He can speak to us in a language we get,” said St.Mary’s sophomore Emmalina Toma.

Congressman Neal told 22News Washington is already buzzing ahead of his arrival.

“As the bishop of Rome, he’s also the head of state. You’re hearing from everyone this excitement he’s generating from across the globe about aspiration. I hope the message he delivers will be one that challenges us to be more than we are,” he said.

Along with St. Mary’s, high school students from Cathedral, St. Joseph’s in Pittsfield, and Holyoke Catholic will also attend.

All week, 22News will be LIVE on the Pope’s journey through the United States, so you, too, can witness history. Make sure to watch 22News and keep up to date at

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