Letters written by Pennsylvania students to Pope Francis will be hand-delivered and presented to the pope as gifts this week from Governor Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett.
The Corbetts are among the delegates who traveled to Rome this week to meet with the Vatican organization that’s planning the World Meeting for Families in Philadelphia next year. Pope Francis is expected to participate, which would make Philadelphia his first visit to the United States.
“P.S. I would love it if I could meet you when you come to Pennsylvania,” writes 10-year-old Ryan Ness, who also tells the pope a little about himself and his family. He offers to pray for Pope Francis and then asks, “Could you keep me in your prayers?”
The letters were written by students at Good Shepherd School in Camp Hill, Cumberland County, Pa., which is a borough next to Harrisburg. The school started a Prayer Partner program several years ago for first graders. Students pull names of prominent people from various vocations and develop what akin to a spiritual pen pal relationship. Governor Corbett has been a Prayer Partner with seven different students in recent years.
“They’ve been writing to us every year,” Corbett said. “And I thought it could be very important and I asked the sister if she would like to have the children write a note to the pope and we’re going to deliver them.”
Pope Francis will receive the letters on Wednesday when he shares a private audience with the Philly delegates before his traditional General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Third-grader Ethan Shulder-Elia drew a cross on his card for the pope and wishing him a “Happy belated St. Patrick’s day from my family.”
Sixth grader Caroline Dash had more to say than her fellow students, who kept their letters to a page or a card. She typed up a three-page letter sharing more personal moments including her adoption and recent moment of reflection when “I felt like God was talking right to me.” And she ends with and afterthought the governor thinks this pope might smile when reads. “P.S. Do you like your job?”