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California Celebrates Pope Francis from Afar

Central San Joaquin Valley faith leaders and families, thrilled that Pope Francis will visit the United States next Tuesday, have launched celebrations in anticipation of the event.

Many of them will travel to the East Coast to see Francis up close at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Francis will conduct a Papal Mass at the World Meeting of Families on Sunday. A group from Bakersfield is traveling to the East Coast to see the Pope.

On Monday, an interfaith candlelight prayer vigil is scheduled in Fresno. On Saturday, the Diocese of Fresno and Faith in Action in Kern County will host an event at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield.

Francis is scheduled to visit three cities in five days: Washington, New York and Philadelphia. On Wednesday, The Rev. Dan Avila, director of vocations for the Diocese of Fresno, is one of a group of clergy from the Diocese of Fresno, including Bishop Armando Ochoa, who will attend Father Junipero Serra’s canonization Mass in Washington, D.C. On Thursday, Avila will attend Francis’ address to a joint session of Congress.

Ochoa told the Fresno Bee, “It is my hope that all of our experiences of this extraordinary papal visit to the United States will continue to cultivate a deeper desire to embrace and live out the call of the Gospel, which is the foundation of all of Pope Francis’ messages. To live and love with others as Christ Jesus teaches us through his word and example.”

Photo: file

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