BLOOMFIELD -- Sister Peggy Evans was invited to go to Washington to see Pope Francis by Rep. John Larson, along with East Hartford priest Fr. James Nock.
"And his line was, I can't think of two more deserving people. And my response was, John, I can think of a lot more deserving people but I'm not giving you their names because I really want to go!” Sister Evans said jokingly of the invite.
Evans, a guidance counselor at East Catholic High School in Manchester, has never seen a pope before. She said the energy in D.C. was thrilling.
"No matter where he went, just his presence electrified, that's probably the best word, electrified everybody there,” she said.
Evans took in Pope Francis’ first appearance at the White House, a mass at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as well as his speech to Congress. She was most struck by his love for children, she said.
"And you can see it, you can hear it in his talks. He just, it was amazing.”
As Evans was coming home, tons of Connecticut residents were leaving the state to see the pope's appearances in Philadelphia.
Members of the Archdiocese of Hartford couldn’t pass up the chance to see the pope in action, so they planned a trip to the World Meeting of Families in April, praying for a good time and no traffic.
On Friday morning, three separate busloads from the Archdiocese headed south from Bloomfield, Cheshire and New Haven. Added up, their group was about 250 strong and represented 100 different Connecticut parishes.
They packed for a three day trip: Saturday, they’ll attend a workshop about families and Sunday, they’re off to mass led by the Pontiff himself.
Many participants told Fox CT they were excited to experience what they’ve been seeing on the news.
“I’ll be glad to see him in person. More especially, I want to touch him if I’ll be able to do it because it is one of my intentions when I was praying,” Eunice Kwanashie said.
Hilda Bayes, through a translator, said that her wish before passing onto the next world was to see the pope and if she gets to see the pope, she’ll say thank you.
“I’ve been doing the Novena prayer for about a week now, praying for a blessing because this is a pilgrimage,” said Patrick Kwanashie of the journey to and from Philadelphia.
Arturo Ramos was especially looking forward to the spiritual part of the trip.
“We know that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have a lot of things to ask him and a lot of things to thank him for,” said Ramos.
Carol Orellena is interested in the connections she'll make.
“A lot of our church community is going so it is not going be awkward,” said Orellena of her busmates. “It’ll be good to meet people from other churches, too.”