During his trip to the United States, Pope Francis has chosen to dine with the underprivileged and often overlooked population of Washington, D.C.: the homeless.
The pope will spend time on Thursday at St. Patrick’s Church then move next door as homeless people gather for a meal held by Catholic Charities—a social ministry nonprofit that reaches out to people in need.
“We expect [the pope] to be like a maître d’ at a restaurant,” Erik Salmi, communications director for the Washington branch of Catholic Charities, told the Washington City Paper. “There’s not a lot that’s scripted; rather, we want him to have as much time to greet people [and] spend time with them as possible. He’s big with people on the margins of society, those that tend to get overlooked.”
St. Maria Meals Program, a part of Catholic Charities that provides weekly meals at three locations in the Washington area to those in need, will have 55 tables set up under a large tent. The organization expects 300 people to join.
Monsignor John Enzler,CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, told USA Today, “The church is where you go on Sunday.” The pope will be coming to the meal “to spend time with the most vulnerable.”
The pope is scheduled to bless the food and make brief remarks as the poor and homeless eat the boneless teriyaki chicken breast on their plates.
Seventy volunteers, along with Catholic Charities staff, will serve the meal.
With less than 48 hrs until the Pope visits our homeless meals program, our kitchen is working extra hard to be ready pic.twitter.com/mjrp9Hrgyh
— Catholic Charities (@CCADW) September 22, 2015
“[Pope Francis] is a walking, talking parable,” John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University told CNN. “This is a Pope who looks at the world from the bottom up and from the outside in.”
The visit to dine with the homeless comes after Francis stops by Capitol Hill. He will address congressmen in what will be the first time a pope has spoken in a joint meeting of Congress.
This trip marks Francis’ first visit to the United States.
He landed in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday as over 11,000 live viewers watched the White House’s first broadcast on the live-streaming app Periscope.
Periscope viewers tuned into the historic moment as the pope left his plane and was greeted by President Barack Obama.
Francis will leave Washington for New York later in the day Thursday.