NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Westchester County teen chosen to meet Pope Francis took the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Friday to ask the pontiff to bless her ailing father.

Kara Fragola, 17, who attends Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale, was among 12 high school seniors in the New York Archdiocese selected for their academics and spirituality to meet the pope. Her father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer in February.

PHOTOS: Pope Visits East Harlem School

The selected students were positioned in a hallway when Francis visited Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. Kara was carrying a photo of her and her father.

“He just immediately took the picture, blessed it,” she told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez. “He asked what his name was. I told him ‘Robert.’ And he said, ‘I’ll pray for him.’ It was so special.”

Kara Fragola had Pope Francis bless this photo of her with her father. (Credit: Handout)

Kara Fragola had Pope Francis bless this photo of her with her father. (Credit: Handout)

“It means more than can be put into words,” Kristen Fragola, Kara’s sister, told CBS2’s Dana Tyler in an in-studio interview that took place as the pope was leaving the school. “As spiritual and religious as we are, to have the pope pray for my father, there’s no one in the world that could be more special.”

Kara and Kristen’s mother, Lauren, said her husband told her recently that he felt as though Kara’s opportunity to meet the pope was God’s way of telling him his family, who live in Eastchester, will be OK “regardless whatever happens with him.”

“We do believe in miracles,” Lauren Fragola said. “But we have to be realistic. We hope that Kara getting a chance to get the pope to say a prayer and bless my husband’s picture that we will get a miracle, but if we don’t get a miracle, the fact that he did bless my husband’s picture and my daughter did meet him, for us as a family, that is a special blessing at this time with what we’re going through. It has uplifted us.

“I know it is making my husband very happy and very proud that this happened.”


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