NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Pope Francis’ whirlwind tour of New York City came to an end as he left for Philadelphia Saturday morning, the final stop on his first-ever visit to the United States.
The pope took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport for the City of Brotherly Love, where he took part in a weekend of activities, including a Vatican-organized rally that will culminate in an outdoor Mass for 1 million people.
The pope gave a brief farewell to a few hundred worshipers who gathered at JFK to see him off.
“I will never forget that moment,” one young girl told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
“It made me feel very happy,” the girl’s brother said.
Several nuns gave the Holy Father flowers and wished him well on his journey, CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported.
“It’s showing to the world what the Catholic church is, a big family full of joy. So I think it’s something wonderful,” said Mother Mary of the Redeemer.
With the wind whipping, he took a small stumble as he ascended the stairs to a waiting jet. He waved to the crowd as the airplane taxied.
Sweeping through the landmarks of America’s biggest city, Pope Francis on Friday offered comfort to 9/11 victims’ families at ground zero, warnings to world leaders at the United Nations and encouragement to schoolchildren in Harlem as he mixed the high and low ministry so characteristic of his papacy.
In the early evening, he led a jubilant parade through Central Park past a crowd of about 80,000. People from different parts of the world waited in the park for hours for a momentary glimpse of perhaps the most admired man in the world.
“He’s going to bring us all back to our faith and make us all one in this universe,” one spectator said.
With smart phone cameras held high, his very presence in Central Park stirred a wave of emotion.
“That was probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen,” said another spectator. “I’ve never felt closer to God in my life.”