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Immigrant women working on altar clothes for Pope Francis - Daily News New York

New York Daily News 9/2/2015

Agueda Zavaleta is making sure every stitch is perfect in her latest embroidery project — part of a gift to Pope Francis that she is set to deliver in person.

“This is the most special thing that has ever happened in my life,” said Zavaleta, 42, a Yonkers mom of two who emigrated from Puebla, Mexico.

Zavaleta and 17 other immigrant women are working on a series of altar cloths and table coverings for this month’s Papal visit to New York City. The efforts were organized by Catholic Charities, a non-profit affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York, and are part of a special visit Francis — famous for his humility and charitable spirit — requested with immigrants and refugees, said Catholic Charities New York leader Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.

Pope Francis is set to bless about 150 local immigrants who participate in Catholic Charities' programs during his visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem on Sept. 25.

“Pope Francis expressed an interest in his trip of meeting with those people who Catholic Charities is helping. It’s part of his whole thrust that we should be a church that should be open to the community, inclusive, and have a special concern for those who are poor, vulnerable, on the margins,” Sullivan said.

The half-hour visit will include some of the Yonkers women, as well as a group of day laborers, teens who recently arrived from Central America on their own and many others from Staten Island, the Bronx and Manhattan, organizers said.

At the event, Zavaleta and her friend Ignacia Gonzalez will present some of their handiwork as a gift to Francis.

“The most important thing is that what we are making is going to be touched by him at some point,” Zavaleta said as she filled in the outline of a decorative cross with mustard-colored thread.

The other hand-embroidered cloths will be used to decorate the church and to drape the altar during the Pope’s big Madison Square Garden Mass.

Gonzalez, 34, who is also from Mexico, said she already feels like the experience is a dream.

“I still can’t believe it, it’s such a privilege,” she said.

“I will ask him to pray for us, because we need help in this country, as immigrants.”

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