NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Some people will get to do more than just see Pope Francis when he visits New York City later this month. They've been selected to receive a special blessing from the pontiff.
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, head of Catholic Charities, announced Thursday that 150 immigrant New Yorkers have been chosen for the blessings when Francis appears at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem on Sept. 25, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.
"Having this be the place where he comes to not only meet the diverse community but also embrace the challenges that exist in communities like ours is really touching and humbling," Sullivan told reporters, including CBS2's Meg Baker.
Pope To Give Special Blessing To Some Immigrant New Yorkers In East Harlem
Representatives from Catholic Charities say the pope's actions in New York will spread the message of compassion and to help others, especially the poor.
"The fabric of New York has been made stronger because those who have been on the margins -- the poorest, the most vulnerable -- have been given a decent meal, provided shelter, children have been nurtured and protected," Sullivan said.
"My hope is that we will renew the conversation so that those who come here can be treated with dignity and respect."
Among those to receive the pope's blessing are children who came to the United States on their own to escape violence-torn Central American countries.
Those who have been selected for the blessings could not have been more honored.
"I feel excited to meet the pope," said Martha Castro.
"Being a Muslim, I think that this will be a huge experience for me," said Shehid Khan, who is from Pakistan.
"That's very noble of him, to take time out of his busy agenda to come meet with people, to give them hope that they mean something, that they're important," said Kimberly Ramirez, 18, the daughter of Dominican immigrants. "So I think it's just really amazing what he's doing."
Two days prior to the blessing, the pope will speak to Congress, where he is expected to urge them to take care of the poor, welcome immigrants and promote peace.
Meanwhile, New Yorkers who want to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis in Central Park can begin registering Thursday for a chance to win tickets.
The pope will travel through part of the park Sept. 25 before celebrating Mass at Madison Square Garden. The route will head across the 72nd Street roadway and proceed south along the West Drive.
The city says it will have the most stringent security protocols in place to make sure everyone stays safe.
"It really is opening up access to the pope for tens of thousands of more people which is very special and I think is going to mean a lot to a lot of people," said Phil Walzak, senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
New York State residents can call 311 or click here to register online for a pair of tickets until Monday. Winners will be randomly selected and will be notified on Sept. 10.
The pontiff arrives in the city Sept. 24 and departs for Philadelphia on Sept. 26. He will also attend service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, address the United Nations General Assembly and visit the National September 11 Memorial.
For a complete schedule, click here.
It's Francis' first visit to the United States. He starts his five-day trip in Washington, D.C.
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