Sunday 27 May 2018

Pope Francis to visit centre for homeless people during upcoming trip to Ireland

Pope Francis (Niall Carson/PA)
Pope Francis (Niall Carson/PA)
Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience, in St Peter’s Square (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Paul Williams

Pope Francis is planning to pay a special visit to Dublin's Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless people when he comes to Ireland in August, it has been revealed this morning.

Brother Kevin Crowley the Capuchin friar who has fed Dublin's poor and homeless for over 40 years revealed the surprise news this morning on Newstalk Breakfast.

Planning for the visit to the centre has been going on for months but it had been kept a closely guarded secret until now.

"We have a very, very special guest coming to see us ... I am so delighted and I think its absolutely fantastic, non other than Pope Francis himself," the 82 year old announced.

Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience, in St Peter’s Square (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience, in St Peter’s Square (Andrew Medichini/AP)

"I think that this is a huge, huge honour for the people in need and for the homeless people.

"It is going to be really exciting for them and that is why I am so delighted that these people are being recognised by the Pope."

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Pope Francis' visit to the Capuchin Centre on Bow Street in the inner-city is scheduled to take place on the afternoon of Saturday, August 25, shortly after he arrives in Ireland for the first of a two day visit, the first since 1979.

Security preparations for the Pontiff's visit to the centre have been ongoing for several weeks with specialist officers carrying out a security audit of the building and the area.

It is understood that the Garda International Protection and Liaison Office are working closely with the Pontiff's security staff who have also visited the centre.

Brother Kevin revealed that members of the Pope's security detail visited the centre on Monday.

"We had a number of people from Rome here making preparations already," he said.

In a podcast for Independent.ie last year, the founder of the Centre first revealed that he would invite the Pontiff to visit the homeless in the event that a papal tour was confirmed.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Brother Kevin thanked Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for organising the visit with the Pope.

"Archbishop Martin is really responsible for that [the visit] and I'm so thankful to him to organise the Pope to come to the Day Centre.

"It is fabulous that he (Pope) is giving such precious time to the homeless people and, of course, I am not surprised by that because everywhere he went he made a special effort to be involved with the poor.

"He is the man for the poor and a man of great concern for the under-privileged," he said.

Every day the Capuchin Centre provides on average of 1,000 hot meals and each weeks distributed between 1400 and 2000 food parcels.

It costs over €3 million annually to run the centre which also provides clothing and a wide range of medical and social services from professionals who give their time for free.

While Brother Kevin said that Pope Francis would be too late for breakfast, lunch would be kept if he was feeling peckish.

The purpose of the 81-year-old pontiff's visit Ireland is to attend the three-yearly World Meeting of Families.

Initially the official itinerary flagged just two events during the visit - the ‘Festival of Families’ in Croke Park on Saturday 25 August and a mass that he will celebrate in Dublin’s Phoenix Park the following day.

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