Papal pilgrimage: Detroit Catholics pack for Philly to see Pope

Image 1 of 2

Pope Francis celebrated mass in Cuba Monday drawing a crowd of thousands, including President Raul Castro in Holguin's Revolution Plaza.

His homily included a call for more religious freedom. Yesterday the pope met privately with Castro and his brother, former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Pope Francis is making his way to the United States for a three-city tour and many metro Detroit are making the trip.

"Everybody wants something blessed by the Pope," said Holly Michelcavage of St. Anastasia Parish, Troy.

Clutching their rosaries, Michelcavage and Florence Parents are packing for a pilgrimage to Pennsylvania and a blessing from Pope Francis.

"To be able to go see Pope Francis here in the United States," said Parent. "is just like, 'Yes, we want to do it.'"

Archdiocese of Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron has already left for Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families Congress. He will join other U.S. bishops and Pope Francis in Washington DC on Wednesday.

There the pope will also be speaking to Congress before flying to New York and then on to Philadelphia where the celebration includes the Festival of Families Saturday night featuring Mark Wahlberg, Jim Gaffigan and Aretha Franklin, honoring a pope who seems to have surpassed rock star status.

"I think that just speaks to the wide appeal that this pope has," said Michelcavage. "That you're pulling in all sorts of people you would never imagine are also excited to be part of his visit to the United States."

"Aretha Franklin," said Parent. "It's going to be really awesome."

FOX 2: "You get to see the Queen of Soul and the Pope."

"Right," she said.

But the real reason for the visit and the celebration - a Papal mass on Sunday, is expected to draw a million people and security will be tighter than ever.

"I say just pray for his safety," said Parent. "It's such an honor to have him in the United States and we want him to be safe. We love him and we're just blessed."

When Florence and Holly board that bus Thursday, it will be one of many the trip to Philly from Detroit filled with hundreds from this archdiocese making the pilgrimage.

Annie Schunior is packing up her camera and will be documenting the pope's visit to Philadelphia on social media for the Archdiocese of Detroit. The 25-year-old will be using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram connecting with young people, anyone and everyone who wants to share in the pope's message.

"He just exudes joy," said Schunior, 25. "So I think it's important that Detroit is there showing there is a lot of joy coming from this city, a lot of hope. The Catholic Church is alive and Pope Francis really makes that message relevant."

For more information go to WWW.AOD.ORG/PAPALVISIT