“Extraordinary opportunity:” County Exec., MU president look forward to event with Pope Francis

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MILWAUKEE/WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pope Francis is making an historic visit to the United States. On Monday, September 21st, Pope Francis celebrated Mass with thousands in Cuba. On Tuesday, Pope Francis will arrive at Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C. Milwaukee will be well-represented during the Pope's visit, and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, and Marquette University President Michael Lovell spoke out in advance of their trip to see the Pontiff.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

On Wednesday, September 23rd, Abele and Lovell will be in Washington, D.C. for Pope Francis' visit. It's a trip Abele called "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

"It's the first time he'll be speaking on American soil. The White House is the center of policy in the United States and the Pope is probably the single most influential figure in religious thought and religiously guided policy in the world," Abele said.

On Wednesday morning, Pope Francis will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House.

"I was in Rome this summer with the general audience -- which there were tens of thousands of people and you could see him from afar. I'm hoping to get a much closer glimpse of him, maybe shake his hand or reach out and touch him," Lovell said.

Marquette University President Michael Lovell

Marquette University President Michael Lovell

Abele says he got an invite because the County Executive's Office often works with the White House on policy agendas.

"They send invites -- some of which don't work with the schedule, but when I saw the invite to meet Pope Francis, I thought, 'I've got to say yes to that. What an extraordinary opportunity,'" Abele said.

And with the invite came the opportunity to invite a guest -- so Abele reached out to Lovell.

"One of the things about Marquette University is our mission is produce men and women that live their lives in service to others and you look at this pope and he certainly embodies that. I'm pretty excited to take this journey," Lovell said.

Marquette's campus has organized several watch parties for the Pope's visit.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

CLICK HERE to access Pope Francis' full schedule for his U.S. visit.