SALISBURY, NC - A reverend from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salisbury will be on hand when the Pope speaks to Congress on Thursday. Father John Eckert said it all came together at the last minute. He recognized an opportunity after finding out that North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittinger had spare tickets for Pope Francis's speech to Congress.
"It just kind of worked out," Eckert said. "I was going to try to get up there, and things came together. I wrote to Congressman Pittinger's representative overseeing those tickets, and managed to get a few."
Eckert will travel with his father, his brother, and a family from his congregation.
This won't be the first time Eckert has seen a Pope speak in the United States. He was on hand in New York in 2008 for Pope Benedict. However, Eckert said people can't overlook the importance of Pope Francis's speech.
"Obliviously it's a historic event," Eckert said. "To get to be there to see him like that, it's going to be great and I'm glad I get to be present."
Eckert said that because of mass media and the ease of travel, the Pope is more accessible now than ever before. He believes America can benefit from that.
"That beautiful message of the mercy of Christ," Eckert said. "That message that carries on, specifically it was very strong with John Paul II, that be not afraid, pointing towards that hope, I'm excited to see him do that right here."
Pope Francis will speak at the Capitol Building on Thursday at 10am.