Anne Arundel

Anne Arundel readies for Pope Francis' visit

St. John the Evangelist School Principal Casey Buckstaff and students kneel behind the bags full of about 350 pairs of shoes that they are donating through "Feet for Francis." The drive is being done in connection with the pope's visit to the United States.

People affectionately refer to Ginny Dauses as a pope stalker.

There have been three popes during Dauses' 37 years and she has seen them all in person. And she's about to see Pope Francis for the second time, as one of the hundreds of thousands of spectators expected this week on his first trip to the United States.


"Him coming makes people stop and makes the world stop and to think a man can do that ...," she said. "I'm sure this type of visit can re-establish some people's faith."

As campus minister of St. Mary's High School in Annapolis, Dauses is traveling to Philadelphia with 12 students to attend the papal Mass and the World Meeting of Families, the biggest gathering of Catholic families, which occurs every three years. The convention includes talks, panels and workshops.


"It's a great representation of the church ...," Dauses said. Pope Francis has "been able to get into the hearts of many … He somehow has sort of been loved by all."

Casey Buckstaff, principal of St. John the Evangelist School in Severna Park, is participating in a leg of a pilgrimage from Baltimore to Philadelphia. Today Buckstaff will walk 18 miles from the Basilica in Baltimore to St. Ursula in Baltimore County. Others in the pilgrimage will continue on foot for the more than 100-mile trip to the papal Mass in Philadelphia.

"There's a lot of excitement about his visit here in Severna Park," Buckstaff said. "Having him be here in the United States is such a real example for the kids."

The school is also participating in a shoe drive as a part of the pope's visit. So far the students have collected about 350 pairs through "Feet for Francis," a project to collect new or gently worn shoes that will be donated to people in 26 developing nations.

Although Buckstaff isn't going to either of the papal Masses, she has plans to go see the pope during his brief public appearance at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Thursday.

"It's a once in a lifetime kind of an opportunity when you think about it," she said. "When I was younger, I'm in my 30s, you'd see the pope on the TV once a while … Now that social media is so prevalent we hear so much from him all the time. He's more present with us than popes have been in the past. (People) feel like they already know him."

Linthicum resident Danielle Turner follows Pope Francis on Facebook and has been reading his posts and readings every day in preparation for the Philadelphia Mass, which she will be attending with her husband, Maryland Gazette columnist Phil Turner.

"It will be kind of life changing to hear that message in person," she said.


Turner said it will be powerful to experience Mass with so many other people and see in person how universal the religious practices are.

"Especially everybody hearing the message he has to share with families," she said. "Right now our country's kind of at a crossroads at really trying to decide a lot of questions about the family."

"I feel like Pope Francis coming is special because he's made a lot more people curious or interested in what the church has to say. He's been an attractive figure."

The Rev. Charles Hergenroeder at St. Mary's Parish said excitement is building in the Annapolis congregation also.

He'll be going to the Mass in Washington, D.C., at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where Pope Francis will be canonizing Junipero Serra, a Spanish-born Franciscan friar who started nine Spanish missions in California in the 1700s.

"I think there's a lot of commonality between what he's saying and the founding ideals of our country," Hergenroeder said. "I'm a little bit more excited because I spent 30 years of my life in Brazil and, of course, I was quite excited when an Argentinian was elected pope."


Annapolis resident Maritza Vasquez will be on the bus to Philadelphia with Hergenroeder, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope. Vasquez, originally from El Salvador, said the Hispanic community is particularly excited about the pope's visit.

"I've been dreaming about it," Vasquez said. "It's a big experience."

About a week and a half ago, Dauses and six of her high school students huddled in her office for hours to get tickets to the Philadelphia Mass online.

"We had every iPad and cellphone out," she said. "It's bigger than One Direction tickets right now."

St. Mary's will have the entire student body in its hall to watch the pope's address to Congress Thursday morning. Teachers will also be streaming live feeds of other events throughout his visit. "The whole school will stop. This is a big deal."


Couldn't get a Mass ticket?

All papal visit events will be live streamed on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website. A schedule of events can be found on the website at