NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – With Pope Francis scheduled to make his first visit to the United States in fall 2015, New Rochelle churchgoers are hopeful that his holiness gets close, but not too close to their city, fearing repercussions of his stay.
Last week, Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput announced that the pope was due to visit his city in September 2015 for the World Meeting of Families. Since then, speculation has spread regarding where he might make stops, with several New York officials more than eager to draw Francis to their locales.
Margaret Moore, a New Rochelle resident who said she has frequented church multiple times a week for more than 20 years, said that if the pope were to come near New Rochelle, it would be a logistical nightmare.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years, and as much as I’d like to have the pope come to my hometown, between security and traffic and everything, I think it would be more trouble than it’s worth,” she said outside of Refuge of Hope. “I’d rather go see him in the city or in someone else’s town nearby.”
At the New Rochelle train station, Tony DeStefano, who works in Manhattan near One World Trade Center, said that he has experienced the trouble of world leaders visiting when President Obama made an appearance at the memorial.
“We were locked in our building and forced to close all the windows and open up the shades,” he said. “I don’t even know where they would bring the pope if he were to come to New Rochelle. I’d think it would be more likely that they have him in the city.”
At St. Gabriel’s Church, Adele Lane said that she thought it would be worthwhile to bring the pope to Westchester, despite the hurdles such an event would entail.
“It doesn’t have to be in New Rochelle, necessarily, but bringing him to one of the more affluent, popular counties in the country would be fantastic,” she said. “I’m not sure what would need to be done to make that a reality, but I think it would be a great experience for someone who has committed themselves to the church.”
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