Of the millions of people who arrived on the East Coast last week to see Pope Francis during the pontiff’s brief trip to the United States, at least two of them had made their plans to attend before they even had tickets to any events. Elsa Gonzalez of Los Angeles was desperate to take her 28-year-old son, Christian, to see the pope. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around, and Elsa was hopeful that if only he could see Pope Francis, perhaps some of his ailments would be healed. But although she started asking at her church in February, no one had available tickets, which wasn’t surprising considering the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had a total of only 275 to distribute among all of its parishes. So Elsa made plans to go to Washington, DC anyway, hoping and praying that something would happen and she would end up with two tickets to the mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Elsa’s prayers were answered just days before the pope arrived when another parishioner canceled his trip and Elsa and her son were able to get the tickets. She cried with relief and joy when she went to pick them up, she says, startling the nuns and security guards at the archdiocese office. She and Christian were looking forward to the journey and their chance to be near Pope Francis at last.