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Student Carpenters Watch Sendoff For Pope's Altar, Pulpit To New York Mass

Movers put bubblewrap around a pulpit built for Pope Francis at Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven in Somers on Tuesday. The pulpit and altar are destined for Madison Square Garden's Papal Mass on Sept. 25.
Movers put bubblewrap around a pulpit built for Pope Francis at Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven in Somers on Tuesday. The pulpit and altar are destined for Madison Square Garden's Papal Mass on Sept. 25. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Bill Kelley of Montrose, far right, takes a final look at the altar that three of his wood shop students built at Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven -- to be used by Pope Francis during this month's Mass at Madison Square Garden.
Bill Kelley of Montrose, far right, takes a final look at the altar that three of his wood shop students built at Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven -- to be used by Pope Francis during this month's Mass at Madison Square Garden. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Three teenage carpenters from Lincoln Hall -- who are from Long Island, New Rochelle and Ossining -- watched quietly as movers wrapped their handmade furniture before transporting it from Somers to New York City on Tuesday.
Three teenage carpenters from Lincoln Hall -- who are from Long Island, New Rochelle and Ossining -- watched quietly as movers wrapped their handmade furniture before transporting it from Somers to New York City on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
James Coughlin, left, program director at Lincoln Hall, and two teenage carpenters from the boys' haven in Somers, look on as movers hoist the Papal pulpit into a truck destined for New York City.
James Coughlin, left, program director at Lincoln Hall, and two teenage carpenters from the boys' haven in Somers, look on as movers hoist the Papal pulpit into a truck destined for New York City. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Geddes Graham, a Lincoln Hall teacher and barber instructor; and James Coughlin, program director, were among those helping carry a Papal altar out of the Somers woodshop on Tuesday for use later this month by Pope Francis.
Geddes Graham, a Lincoln Hall teacher and barber instructor; and James Coughlin, program director, were among those helping carry a Papal altar out of the Somers woodshop on Tuesday for use later this month by Pope Francis. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
The pulpit and lectern for Pope Francis' Mass at Madison Square Garden as it looked Tuesday at Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven in Somers. Student carpenters at Lincoln Hall built the pulpit and an altar.
The pulpit and lectern for Pope Francis' Mass at Madison Square Garden as it looked Tuesday at Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven in Somers. Student carpenters at Lincoln Hall built the pulpit and an altar. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

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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