PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Pope Francis met Sunday with a family who made a 13,000-mile trip over 194 days from Argentina to Philadelphia in an old Volkswagen van.
Francis spent time with fellow Argentinians Catire Walker and Noel Zemborain and their four children and was touched by their experience, said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.
Walker and Zemborain quit their jobs in food service and marketing to lead their children on the unforgettable tour of the Americas, using savings and soliciting donations to fund the trip to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Along the way they made 12 border crossings and stayed with dozens of host families, did lots of sightseeing and documented the trip online. They schooled their children — Cala, 12; Dimas, 8; Mia, 5; and Carmin, 3 — with the help of a distance learning program.
"I think this kind of meeting shares the same spirit we want our journey to have — to meet other families, to know other families," Zemborain told The Associated Press last week. "The (World Meeting) slogan is 'The Family Fully Alive,' and that's how we feel as a family."
Zemborain, Walker and the kids plan to continue traveling until November.
Francis was to celebrate a Mass on Sunday that organizers estimated would draw more than 1 million people to downtown Philadelphia.