A religious pilgrimage to celebrate a new movement within their church in Plainfield

PLAINFIELD, NJ - Oliver Corona and Christian Menjivar, both 16 and students at Plainfield Public School’s Barack Obama Academy for Academic & Civic Development (BOAACD), will meet Pope Francis in Rome.

The students were invited by their church, Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Plainfield, and will be part of 250 families who will make the pilgrimage to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way’s presence in the Vatican.  This is a celebration of a new movement in the Catholic church that encourages lay people to be more active in their neighborhoods.

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The students will travel from April 30 to May 7.

For Menjivar, the possibility of seeing Pope Francis, “feels like it’s a once in a life time opportunity because you never know if it can happen again.” He said, “Seeing the Pope is like seeing someone that is mentioned a lot and is always talked about in church.  It’s like seeing the President.  It’s someone you only hear people talk about but you never think you are going to see them.”

This is the second time Corona will get the opportunity to see the Pope. He previously traveled to Poland on World Youth Day. This time he will travel with his two older sisters, Guadalupe, 21, and Yamilet, 17.  He says for his family, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico, “This trip is a great experience because seeing the Pope has brought his family closer.”

Both students are able to travel to see the Pope with the help of their parents, their own work, and the church.  Menjivar, whose parents came from El Salvador, lives at home with his mother and three siblings, and aspires to become an architect. 

Corona, who dreams of becoming an electrician, also lives with his parents and two siblings and is looking forward to seeing the Pope once more. “I want to be in the moment, you never know what’s going to happen.”

For more information, call 908-731-4333 or email gmontealegre@plainfield.k12.nj.us.