PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pope Francis is making his way to America today.

He’ll be landing in Washington, D.C. this afternoon.

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This morning, a large group packed up and left Pittsburgh for their trip to see the pope in Philadelphia.

Roughly 135 faithful Roman Catholics didn’t mind the early wake-up call. They met at 6 a.m. to board three buses for a trip to Philadelphia.

“This is like the gift of a lifetime. To be with the pope. To be anywhere near him is just unbelievable,” Patricia Grey said.

Grey just learned about the trip over the weekend. The group will be traveling to the World Meeting of Families Congress.

“We have families from all shapes and sizes, young and old, from all throughout the greater southwestern Pennsylvania region,” Helene Paharik said.

Bishop David Zubik will eventually meet the group in Philadelphia, but he first will be in Washington for an event at the White House with the pope.

“How can we Pittsburghers make a greater impact on creating greater good in the world? And I think he would probably answer we probably need to show mercy, a great deal more in our lives. And I think that is going to be the touchstone of his message to all of us,” Zubik said.

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These pilgrims understand what an honor it will be to be able to share about their experience with fellow church members.

“I am so looking forward to this and I am looking forward to bring that excitement back to our parish,” Grey said.

“We might be able to see him on the jumbotron and we might be able to see him at the altar, but I think hearing our Pope Francis speak in English is going to be a moving moment for all of us,” Paharik said.

This morning, KDKA Radio’s Maria Gabriel joined the “KDKA Morning News” from St. Paul’s Cathedral, where local Catholics were getting ready to journey to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis.

Gabriel said the ages of the Pilgrims are between the ages of 40 and 70. She added that there were also some young parents making the trip.

Gabriel said one woman told her she doesn’t care if she gets close to the pope, knowing that there will be a lot of people in attendance, she is just happy to be in the same area as the pontiff.

For more information on the Pope’s historic visit to the United States, visit: http://www.popefrancisvisit.com/

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