Two dozen New Yorkers chosen to meet Pope Francis in September

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EAST HARLEM — From teen soccer players to political refugees from Central America, to students in a tutoring program, a group of a couple dozen people is feeling fortunate now, even though they come from challenging backgrounds.

That’s because they’ve been chosen to meet Pope Francis by the organization that’s provided help to them over the years.

On Thursday, the Catholic Charities organization introduced to the public, the men, women and children who will get to meet the pope face-to-face when he visits East Harlem on Sept. 25.

“I started crying,” said Odette Manzano, a mother of three who moved to New York from Mexico two decades ago. She’d seen Pope John Paul II from blocks away 36 years ago in Mexico, and was about the same distance away from Pope Benedict XVI when he was in New York seven years ago.

This time, however, “To be able to meet Pope Francis is just amazing,” Manzano told PIX11 News. “And with him speaking Spanish, and my language is Spanish, to meet him and greet him in my native language is like a dream come true.”

For those of us not lucky enough, or blessed to get an up-close meeting with the pontiff, Catholic Charities on Thursday also unveiled its new web extra,

It’s a website that anyone — Catholic or not — can access to send video greetings to Pope Francis.

Several celebrities, including Hillary Clinton, Stephen Colbert and Tom Brokaw have already done so.

His Holiness Pope Francis will be in New York September 24 and 25.

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