ROME (CNS) — Just before Thanksgiving, the Pontifical North American College will welcome some special guests of Pope Francis.

About 4,000 poor people are expected to join the pope for Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Nov. 19, which Pope Francis had designated as the World Day of the Poor.

After the Mass and noon recitation of the Angelus, the 4,000 people will be offered lunch. But since this is a Sunday lunch — not a sack lunch — the Vatican audience hall can accommodate only about 1,500 people.


The North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome — located on the hill above the Vatican — was one of several seminaries and soup kitchens that offered to serve some of the pope’s guests.

“We are expecting a group of just over 200 guests to be coming to the college for ‘pranzo,'” said Father David A. Schunk, assistant vice rector of the college. “The group will be dining in our refectory.”

“Our regular Italian kitchen staff will be cooking the meal, and it will be a combination of students and staff who will be serving our guests,” he said. The meal will be “typical Italian” with bread, a pasta dish, a second course of meat and vegetables, followed by fruit and dessert.

“We were asked by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization to contribute to this initiative of the Holy Father and are very pleased to be able to participate,” he said, “especially since the American holiday of Thanksgiving will occur later in the week.”

Serving the lunch Nov. 19 “will be another reminder to the college community of our call by Christ to reach out, with what we have received, to our brothers and sisters throughout the world who live in various forms of poverty.”