An Argentine family who made an epic 13,000 mile journey through the Americas to meet Pope Francis on his first ever trip to the United States were successful in meeting him after the Pope agreed to meet them and spend time with them. According to ABC News, the couple identified as Catire Walker, his wife, Noel Zemborain, and their four children started off their trip earlier this year to arrive at The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, a conference sponsored by The Vatican aimed at strengthening family bonds.
Walker and Noel were aware of the fact that Pope Francis was scheduled to close the event and celebrate a public mass with the general public on the occasion, and decided to undertake this epic journey of a lifetime that, as we now know, ended in a grand success. Initially, though, they were unsure if they would be able to meet Pope Francis.
“We would love to give him a big hug, but I think it’s going to be difficult with so many people and security. But we will participate and share the joy of being here with him — at a distance.”
However, after learning about their epic trip, Pope Francis met them and spent some time with the family, Yahoo News reports.
The 13,000-mile trip took the family of six 194 days, and it involved 12 border crossings. The family used an old Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter, or Kombi, in the epic trip. They even named their vehicle before embarking on the trip. The Kombi they travelled in was christened “Francisca”, reveals CruxNow. It took a lot of planning before the couple could start the trip. They had to quit their well-paying jobs, make sure that the children’s education isn’t affected, and enrolled them in a distance education program. The children — Cala, 12; Dimas, 8; Mia, 5; and Carmin, 3 — are all having the time of their lives with the parents, as seen on several photos posted on the official website made by them, where they post their trip details. They even have a Facebook page with regular updates.
“I think this kind of meeting shares the same spirit we want our journey to have — to meet other families, to know other families. The (World Meeting) slogan is ‘The Family Fully Alive,’ and that’s how we feel as a family.”
During the course of the trip, they had several notable encounters — the most harrowing of which involved police officials from Ecuador, who suspected the family was carrying contraband. They even threatened to cut into the roof of the van to check for it. While in Panama, they celebrated Walker’s 41st birthday inside the Volkswagen.
“There were many things that stopped us, many fears. We decided it was worth it, to take the risk.”
Then, there were occasions when the condition of the van threatened to prematurely end the trip. The Volkswagen did face mechanical failure several times during the course of the 13,000 mile trip.
Several friends and family also came to the aid of the family and hosted them for several days at their places. Notable among them was Andrea Blanco and her husband, William Cardona, of Diocese of Raleigh’s Hispanic ministry, who hosted them a few weeks ago when the family arrived at Raleigh, North Carolina.
“They are spending and enjoying every single moment in their life as God wants us to be. Just go and pack and live as a family – shared values and virtues.”
The family will continue traveling until November, after which they plan to take a quick flight back home to Argentina from Miami. The Volkswagen was initially planned to be shipped back to Argentina — however, a relative has agreed to drive the van all the way from Miami to Buenos Aires!
[Images Via América en Familia Facebook Page]