Seventh Grader Wins Essay Contest to See Pope Francis Speak in DC

Dylan Lopez of Waltham said he admired the pope for his comments on immigration.

Congreswoman Katherine Clarke with Dylan Lopez.

Congreswoman Katherine Clark with Dylan Lopez.

A lucky Waltham middle school student was surprised on Wednesday when he found out he is taking a trip to Washington, D.C. to see Pope Francis address a joint session of Congress.

John McDevitt Middle School student Dylan Lopez, a seventh grader, won an essay contest put on by Congresswoman Katherine Clark that rewarded the winner with the chance to tag along as her guest in Congress when the pontiff addresses the legislative body on September 24. The pope is stopping in Washington as part of his six-day visit to the United States next week.

In essay, posted below, Lopez told the story of how his parents emigrated to the United States from Argentina and how he wants to help immigrants like Pope Francis. The pope has used his position to call on global leaders to help immigrants, particularly in Europe and North America.

“Dylan’s story represents the basic American promise. You can come to this country with the dream of a better life for your children and grandchildren. You can work hard and provide for your family, so your children can go to a good school, study hard, and achieve anything they set their minds to,” said Clark.

The pope’s speech on September 24 will be the first time a pontiff has ever addressed the body.

Greetings to everyone, especially Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to see the Holy Father. First let me introduce myself. My name is Dylan and I have lived in Waltham since I was born. My parents are immigrants from Argentina and are from the same city as the Holy Father, Buenos Aires.

They arrived in the U.S.A. in 2001 during the economic crisis that destroyed entire families. Many were able to escape. Others were not, because immigrating to another county is very difficult and heartbreaking. They deeply miss their countries, their families, and their customs.

Even the Holy Father when in Lampedusa, Italy, lived through the drama of immigration.

My parents arrived with nothing and now we’re living in America.

I attend Saint Mary’s Parish in Waltham. Father Michael Dolan is very special person. He helps the poor and those in need and is an inspiration to me.

My dream is to help Hispanic immigrants who are discriminated against on a daily basis, which hurts my soul.

It would be very important to express this message during the Holy Father’s visit to the United States.

Many thanks straight from my heart. A hug with lots of affection.

Dylan Lopez