Pope Meets With Family Who Quit Jobs, Drove 13,000 Miles to See Him - NBC Connecticut
2015 Papal Visit

2015 Papal Visit

Pope Francis' First U.S. Visit, Sept. 22-27

Pope Meets With Family Who Quit Jobs, Drove 13,000 Miles to See Him

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    Pope Francis has met with a family who made a 13,000-mile trip over 194 days from Argentina to Philadelphia in an old Volkswagen van.

    A Vatican spokesman says Francis met with Catire Walker and Noel Zemborain and their four children Sunday morning.

    Father Federico Lombardi says it was a very interesting moment and that the family's experience has touched the pope, who is from Argentina.

    Walker and Zemborain quit their jobs in food service and marketing to lead their children on the unforgettable tour of the Americas. They made 12 border crossings to make it to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

    In Mexico City, 41-year-old Catire Walker, center, 39-year-old Noel Zemborain, left, and their children, from left, 3-year-old Carmin, 5-year-old Mia, 8-year-old Dimas and 12-year-old Cala pose in front of their 1980 Volkswagen van, which they named Francisca. The family piled into the van in March in Buenos Aires, Argentina, traveling 13,000 miles to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia and attend the Festival of Families. It took 194 days and 12 border crossings, but the family arrived on Monday. The pope visited with them Sunday before an outdoor Mass.
    Photo credit: AP

    The Vatican-sponsored conference is designed to strengthen family bonds.

    The hardest part of the trip, Zemborain told the Associated Press earlier in the week, was deciding to go. It not only required using their savings and soliciting donations, but also schooling their children — Cala, 12; Dimas, 8; Mia, 5; and Carmin, 3 — with the help of a distance learning program.

    "There were many things that stopped us, many fears," Zemborain said. "We decided it was worth it, to take the risk."

    Francis on Sunday will celebrate a Mass that organizers estimate will draw more than 1 million people to downtown Philadelphia.