Two young Catholic students to greet Pope

April 14, 2008 12:11:30 PM PDT
The Catholic Church is trying hard these days to appeal to young people. Only about 10% of young Catholics go to church. And so, during the pope's visit next week, young people will be front and center, including when the pope arrives at JFK Airport.

Two teens from Queens will greet him with flowers. Their reaction? You can just imagine.

Eyewitness News reporter Lisa Colagrossi has more.

Two young catholic schools students from our area have the distinct honor of welcoming the pope when he arrives at JFK Airport on Friday.

They were chosen for their strong faith and commitment to service.

Christopher Jordan is a fourth grader at Divine Mercy Catholic Academy in Ozone Park. What sets him apart is his devotion to his Catholic faith. He volunteers as an altar server nearly every weekend.

"He serves masses, unstoppable masses," Christoper's father, Scott, said. "There was one weekend where he did five." Last year, Christopher had the privilege of serving mass at the Vatican, although not one with the pope. When he was called to the principal's office a few weeks ago, at first he thought he was in trouble. Far from it. He was chosen to greet the pope at the airport.

"My jaw just dropped, and I was like, 'Wow,'" he said.

"He's very compassionate," principal Sr. Francis Marie Wystepek said. "He has feelings towards his fellow students and even the elderly parishioners."

Needless to say his parents are thrilled.

"He's not going to be one of the 70 kids, he's actually going to be handing flowers to the pope," mother Phyllis Jordan said. "So with that, I started crying and haven't stopped crying since."

Equally as excited is 13-year-old Kaitlyn Karcher, an eighth grade honor student at Our Lady of Grace School in Howard Beach.

"When my mom told me that I was going to meet him, I could't belive it," she said. "I was so excited."

"She's an excellent student," principal Barbara Kaanaugh said. "But more than that, to me, she's just an outstanding young Catholic woman."

Kaitlyn and Christopher both admit they are nervous about meeting Pope Benedict XVI. They say they know they will hand him the flowers, but they say in terms of any conversation, that's anybody's guess. What they do know is that this is the opportunity of a lifetime.


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