Raleigh couple looks to Pope for inspiration

April 15, 2008 7:35:04 PM PDT
Chris and Kathi Lizak of Raleigh still can't believe they have tickets to see the Pope.

"I mean it's the Pope -- like going to see the Beatles if they all of a sudden resurrected and united, it was just a one in a lifetime opportunity," Kathi said.

She became Catholic nine years ago when she married Chris. Chris has been almost a life-long member of Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh.

"You know, when I was a kid going to Sacred Heart Cathedral School, we were considered a Mission Church," Chris explained. "There were less than 2 percent Catholics and it was not like it is today at all."

Today there are nearly 450,000 Catholics registered at churches in North Carolina, but officials with the diocese say that does not include thousands of Hispanics who attend church but are not signed up as members.

In fact, two recent polls put the Catholic population in out state at 7 to 9 percent.

As pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in north Raleigh, Father Mark Reamer has seen the rapid growth first hand -- the result of people from other states and other countries.

He hopes the Pontiff will address immigration.

"I think Pope Benedict, from his perspective as Pope, looking at world wide Church, will bring some wisdom to us and be able to talk about that issue in a way that might challenge us," Father Mark Reamer said.

The Lizaks are also very interested in what the Pope will say and how it might inspire them.

"It can be a very pivotal experience because it makes you think about where you've been and where you're going," Chris said. "It makes you stop and asses where you want to go."

Tickets to see the Pope didn't come easy. The Raleigh Diocese was given 100 tickets to distribute so it held a lottery. More than 800 people entered.


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