WESTCHESTER, N.Y. -- Local Catholics lucky enough to attend Manhattan services led by Pope Francis say they remain exhilarated a week after his visit to the United States.
Sister Patricia Jelly of the Mariandale Convent in Ossining said, "It was an experience I will certainly hold close to my heart for a very long time. . . .The issues he is dealing with are close to my heart, too."
Jelly, who once attended a New York Knicks' basketball game at Madison Square Garden, said she'd never heard a roar of joy as loud at the one that echoed throughout the arena on Sept. 25 as the Holy Father arrived for the Papal Mass.
"I was caught up in the spirit of it. It was a wonderful experience," said Jelly, one of three members of the Dominican Sisters of Hope seated in the sixth row to the Pope's left.
Three teenage carpenters -- who built the altar and pulpit used by Pope Francis -- attended the Mass with about 15 relatives, staff and others affiliated with Lincoln Hall Boys' Haven in Somers.
"It was an amazing experience,'' said Mauricio Agudero, 17, of Ossining. "He looked very holy. I saw him bless a kid with cancer and another in a wheelchair. It was very touching."
Frank Corazao , 15, invited his mother, Virginia Pena of New Rochelle, to join him at the Mass. "She was proud of me,'' Corazao said.
Both boys said the experience has cemented their desire to pursue carpentry as a career. Their wood shop teacher, Bill Kelley of Montrose, said, "I couldn't believe from the very beginning (that) this would be an altar for the Pope. It just didn't seem realistic."
Byron Buran Jr., 16, of Mineola, L.I. -- a third Lincoln Hall carpenter who helped build the Papal furniture -- brought his father to the Mass. "My dad is suggesting I go into carpentry,'' he said.
Jack Flavin, executive director of Lincoln Hall, who accompanied the boys to the Mass with his wife, Marie, said he hopes the handcrafted altar and pulpit can be returned to Lincoln Hall for use in its 400-seat chapel.