Pope Francis visits Our Lady of Angels School in East Harlem

Pope Francis visits students at Our Lady of

Pope Francis visits students at Our Lady of Angels School in East Harlem. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

EAST HARLEM - Pope Francis made one of the most person-to-person appearances of his New York trip at an East Harlem school.

A line of children shrieked and chanted "Holy Father, we love you!" as he made his way along a barricade outside Our Lady of Angels School.

A beaming pope blessed them, shaking hands and posing for a few selfies. Some children embraced him, but a security guard intervened when one girl gave him a big hug.

Later they sang "When the Saints Go Marching In," changing the words to "when the pope goes marching in."

It was his third stop in a day of activities in New York.

Inside, about 150 immigrants and refugees filled the gym to greet him. He then went into a classroom, circulating around tables where grade-schoolers described projects they were working on.

Pope Francis went into an area where the 2007 closing of the parish church spurred protests. It was one of a series of church closings that the Archdiocese of New York said were spurred by dwindling congregations, demographic changes and a scarcity of priests.

The Rev. Manuel Dorantes, an assistant to the Vatican spokesman, says the pope chose to come to the school partly because it represents a mixed Latino-black community. Dorantes says it also "shows that the mission of the church continues at a place even when the church no longer continues."

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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