SOMERS, N.Y. -- Cardinal Timothy Dolan inspected the woodwork of teenagers from Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven on Thursday in preparation for Pope Francis' visit to New York next month.
Boys from the at-risk youth center affiliated with Catholic Charities described their progress building an altar, lectern and pulpit to be used during the Sept. 25 Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden.
"I'm eager to see your work,'' Cardinal Dolan said as he met three boys-turned-carpenters from Ossining, New Rochelle and Long Island. "This is beautiful."
"Will they be able to come to the Mass?'' Dolan asked of the youths, one of whom said he'd seen Pope Benedict during his 2008 Mass at Yankee Stadium. "We're proud of you guys. We're grateful. . . .You guys are following in the footsteps of our Lord."
The pulpit was constructed with an extra half-step for Pope Francis to climb. "He has a bad knee like I do," Dolan said.
"He's done miracles with the kids here,'' Dolan said of Jack Flavin, executive director of Lincoln Hall.
"This is huge for us,'' Flavin said. "How often do you get to do this?"
"They are world famous now,'' Cardinal Dolan said of the three boys. "The most famous carpenters since Saint Joseph."
Bill Kelley of Montrose, Lincoln Hall's wood shop teacher for the past 20 years, said his students never built "anything this big and this important. These are my three best students."
Earlier on Thursday, Dolan visited the Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester, also affiliated with Catholic Charities, where day laborers from Mexico and Central America are building a chair for the Papal Mass. Francisco, the lead worker from Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, also was involved in construction of a chair for Pope John Paul II.
Pope Francis plans to attend an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral after arriving at JFK Airport on Sept. 24. The Pope will make several stops in New York City on Sept. 25, including a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum as well as his 6 p.m. Mass at Madison Square Garden.
Pope Francis also plans to oversee the blessing of immigrants and refugees in East Harlem, according to Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
The Pope then travels to Philadelphia for two days before returning to Rome.
To see messages of welcome and charity for Pope Francis, visit this new website launched by Catholic Charities.
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