SOMERS, N.Y. -- With tempered pride, three teenage carpenters who built an altar, lectern and pulpit for Pope Francis' upcoming New York City Mass silently watched as the Papal furniture was carted from Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven on Tuesday.
The furniture was en route to Madison Square Garden via Port Chester.
On Aug. 6, the woodworking apprentices received a much-publicized visit from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, who inspected their progress and thanked them for their efforts.
The boys from the at-risk youth center affiliated with Catholic Charities said applying a second coat of stain was the most tedious task. Glueing the pieces together -- especially the trim -- was the most painstaking, they said.
Being patient was key, according to Mauricio Agudero, 17, of Ossining. "It was a lot of hard work,'' he said. "But we're professionals."
The handcrafted furniture, along with a chair built by day laborers in Port Chester, is destined for Madison Square Garden, where Pope Francis is set to hold a Mass on Sept. 25.
James Coughlin, program director at Lincoln Hall, said he's hoping all three boys involved in the project can attend the Papal Mass, but tickets are in high demand.
"They are world famous now,'' Cardinal Dolan said last month of the young craftsmen from Ossining, New Rochelle and Long Island. "The most famous carpenters since Saint Joseph."
As the finished altar was being encased in bubblewrap and blankets for the trek to New York City, Lincoln Hall wood shop teacher Bill Kelley said, "It looks amazing.''
Kelley, who lives in Montrose, watched like an anxious parent as more than a half dozen men hoisted the bulky 300-pound altar onto a moving truck. "It's kind of nice to see it go," Kelley said. "I don't need to be worried about it any more."
The moving crew planned a second stop at a Port Chester garage used by Don Bosco Workers to build a chair for the Papal Mass. Francisco Santamaria of Nicaragua, the lead worker from Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, previously helped construct a chair for Pope John Paul II. He was helped this time by Hector Rojas, a Mexican living in Port Chester, and Dominican Fausto Hernández. Brother Sal Sammarco traveled from Florida last month to advise them on the project.
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