New Orleans residents lobbying for Pope Francis to visit for Katrina anniversary

Photo courtesy: WWLTV

NEW ORLEANS – As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, some are hoping to make the commemoration even more special with a visit from the pope.

They are calling it a leap of faith.

“No is always an answer, but we are praying for yes,” said Michie Bissell, St. Jude Community Center’s Board president.

The ladies at St. Jude Community Center are praying Pope Francis accepts their invitation to visit New Orleans when he travels to the U.S. for the first time ever this fall.

“It would be a sense of jubilation to have Pope Francis here because of who he is,” said Sister Beth Mouch. “Francis has brought a whole different attitude and atmosphere to the Catholic church. He really speaks to the poor and for the poor.”

The last time a pope visited the city was back in 1987, when Pope John Paul II stopped in New Orleans during a tour around the country.

Bissell and Mouch say another historic visit is long overdue and say there is no better time than now.

“It’s a perfect time, the culmination of all the celebrations. With Katrina 10 years later, it would be a perfect healing event for the city,” Mouch said.

“I feel so strongly about it,” Bissell said. “That’s why we had someone call him. We didn’t write a letter, we had a connection.”

Bissell is working with a group commissioned by the pope to help build an orphanage in Nazareth. She said New Orleans is the first to raise money for the project, receiving roughly $20,000 in donations in just seven weeks.

“He would complement New Orleans and New Orleans would complement him, because we represent a lot of what his thoughts are all about,” Bissell said.

Pope Francis is traveling to Cuba in September before making stops in Washingtion D.C., New York City and Philadelphia.

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