A group from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora will be leaving Tuesday morning bound for Washington, D.C. for the Pope's U.S. visit. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says seminarians and faculty members are hoping to have a special session with Pope Francis.
"I'm excited. I hope he brings such a renewal to the church of the United States like Pope John Paul II did when he visited," said Bob Owczarzcak, Seminarian studying to be a priest at Christ the King. He is among 33-seminarians and seven faculty members who will travel to see the Pope in D.C.
It will be Owczarzcak's first visit to see a pope. As part of his education, Owczarzcak tells WBFO News this is a chance to put aside a 'textbook.'
"Taking what we know from class and living it out in our lives," said Owczarzak.
The pilgrimage will provide a learning opportunity for the future priests from our region.
"Well that's the head of our church. That's our leader and these are the men of the future who will be leading the church, so they should be getting some direction of where the Holy Father is calling us to live out that gospel message," stated Father Robert Wozniak, Formation Director at Christ the King Seminary.
Father Wozniak will also travel to see the Pope. "There's an emptiness out there and he seems to be filling that void in peoples hearts all across the world," said Wozniak.
WBFO asked Owczarzak why he wants to be a priest. "It's this feeling deep down inside that God is calling me to something more," responded Owczarzcak. "Before I entered, I was a clinical social worker and I would counsel people and I was also a youth minister, but there was something that was just saying God's voice in my heart telling me I want you to bring more people to Christ, to bring more people to me."
Father Wozniak found out in June that he would be able to see Pope Francis. This is not the first time he will be seeing a Pope. He met Pope John Paul II three times and Pope Benedict once. Father Wozniak is hoping his group has a chance to meet with the Pope directly.
"And then after church, we believe that there may be a time for him to speak with the seminarians inside the Basilica," said Wozniak.
Christ the King travelers will first attend the Pope's Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It will include the canonization of a Franciscan missionary.
Father Wozniak said seeing a Pope is an awesome experience. "That whatever he speaks is almost like first hand, hearing it almost of Jesus," said Wozniak. "That's the excitement that we are looking for, is where is he going to challenge us to live out this gospel today, here in our own situations."