Pope Urges Immigrants, East Harlem Children To 'Keep Dreaming'

Francis evoked the spirit of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his address.

Pope Francis arrived at a school in New York's East Harlem on Friday to chants of "Holy Father, we love you!"

The children sang the "Prayer of St. Francis" in English and Spanish, as the pontiff entered the building. Inside, a group of third- and fourth-graders showed him school projects they were working on that align with his focus on the environment.

Speaking later in the school gym, he shared an inspiring message.

"It is beautiful to have dreams and to be able to fight for them. Today we want to keep dreaming," said Francis, evoking the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. "We celebrate all the opportunities which enable you, and us adults, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities."

Pope Francis arrives at Our Lady Queen of Angels school in East Harlem on Sept. 25.
Pope Francis arrives at Our Lady Queen of Angels school in East Harlem on Sept. 25.
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The pope noted that many of the students at Our Lady Queen of Angels and three other local Catholic schools represented at the event come from minority and immigrant communities.

"I know that it is not easy to have to move and find a new home, new neighbors and new friends," the pontiff said. "The good thing is that we also make new friends. We meet people who open doors for us, who are kind to us. They offer us friendship and understanding, and they try to help us not to feel like strangers. To feel at home."

About 70 percent of the students at Our Lady Queen of Angels identify as Hispanic, while 22 percent identify as African-American. Sixty-nine percent qualify for need-based scholarships, according to The Partnership for Inner-City Education, a school management organization that operates six Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx.

After talking with the young children, the pontiff headed into the gym where immigrants and refugees were gathered to hear his message of hope. The men and women -- who hailed from Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Pakistan and parts of Africa -- are clients of the archdiocese's Catholic Charities program. Among them were day laborers, car wash workers, immigrant mothers and a group of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border without their parents and helped start a soccer league in the Bronx.

Francis received gifts from representatives of different immigrant groups, including a book of stories by diaspora communities in New York City. He had brought Our Lady Queen of Angels a wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary with an infant Jesus.

At the end of his brief address, which he delivered in Spanish, the pope asked his listeners for their help. "Please don't forget to pray for me, so that I can share with many people the joy of Jesus," he said.

He also asked them to sing for him. Two different groups of immigrants obliged.

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, said the pope's visit to East Harlem was "his most important stop."

The school is connected to the now-defunct Our Lady Queen of Angels parish. The church closed down in 2007 as part of the New York archdiocese's reorganization and consolidation, which was prompted by declining attendance and a shortage of priests. A group of former parishioners who still meet outside the church on Sundays hope the pope's visit will bring attention to their efforts to re-open the house of worship.

After the East Harlem visit, Francis heads to Madison Square Garden to celebrate Mass. He flies to Philadelphia on Saturday morning, where he will address immigrants gathered at Independence Mall, visit inmates at a local prison and lead two Masses on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. He heads back to Rome on Sunday, Sept. 27.

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Sister Sledge performs at the Festival of Families on September 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis wraps up his trip to the United States with two days in Philadelphia, attending the Festival of Families and meeting with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. (Photo by Matt Rourke-Pool/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis reacts as he listens to children singing upon arrival for a visit to a classroom at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, in New York.
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Pope Francis greets people inside Our Lady Queen of Angels School September 25, 2015 in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis pauses to pray during a visit to Ground Zero on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Francis visited Ground Zero following his address at the United Nations.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis enters Ground Zero on September 25, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis visited Ground Zero following his address at the United Nations. The interfaith prayer service will include Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. The Pope will also meet with family members of victims who were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. servicemembers prepare for the departure of Pope Francis from Washington, DC en route to New York City on September 24, 2015 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: People take pictures in front of a road block on Fifth Avenue ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis at St. Patrick's Cathedral on September 24, 2015 in New York City. Pope Francis will land at John F. Kennedy Airport after a two-day visit to Washington D.C. and will conduct a number of events while in New York including a motorcade through Central Park and Mass in Madison Square Garden.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis, left, has a selfie taken with Michael Brown as he walks through the crowd during a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Cartrice Haynesworth, center, has a selfie taken with Pope Francis, left, as he walks through the crowd during a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Children wait for Pope Francis to arrive and bless a meal outside the Catholic Charities office September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Michael White listens to hymns while waiting for Pope Francis to arrive and bless a meal outside the Catholic Charities office September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis greets parishioners, immigrants and clients of Catholic Charities as he arrives at St. Patrick's Church September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis greets people as he arrives to pray at St. Patrick's Church on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is on a five-day trip to the United States, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia, after a three-day stay in Cuba. St. Patrick's is the oldest Catholic parish in Washington. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis (2-R) pauses in front of a sculpture of Spanish-born Junipero Serra, the Franciscan Friar known for starting missions in California, in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is on a five-day trip to the USA, which includes stops in Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia, after a three-day stay in Cuba.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress and will finish his tour of Washington later today before traveling to New York City.
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WASHINGTON, USA - SEPTEMBER 24: His Holiness Pope Francis enters the House of Representatives chambers to address a joint session of the United States Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, USA on September 24, 2015.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress and will finish his tour of Washington later today before traveling to New York City.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis is greeted by members of Congress as he arrives to speak during a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) (R) speaks with Pope Francis (L) in the U.S. Capitol building before the Pontiff speaks to a joint meeting of Congress September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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Pope Francis greets well-wishers the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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Anderson Mayorga, 10, shows off his Pope Francis shirt in Washington DC.
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People pray while Pope Francis celebrates a Canonization Mass for Rev. Junípero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is in the United State for 6 days during his first trip as the leader of the Catholic Church. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis celebrates a Canonization Mass for Rev. Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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Pope Francis delivers a homily during a Canonization Mass for Rev. Juni­pero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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People sing while Pope Francis celebrates a Canonization Mass for Rev. Juni­pero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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People listen during a Canonization Mass with Pope Francis for Rev. Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis speaks to bishops during the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis attends the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Pope began his first trip to the United States at the White House followed by a visit to St. Matthew's Cathedral, and will then hold a Mass on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis arrives at a midday prayer with US bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC, on September 23, 2015 on the second day of his six-day visit to the US.. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis stands at the altar of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for a private prayer before participating in the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis arrives for the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis leans out and waves to the crowd as he rides in a popemobile along a parade route around the National Mall on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis blesses a child handed to him during a parade on the streets around the Ellipse, south of the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) Pope Francis and U.S. President Barack Obama stands for the national anthem of the United States during the arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Pope Francis (L) during the arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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US President Barack Obama talks with Pope Francis during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) Pope Francis and U.S. President Barack Obama talk in the Oval Office during the arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first Lady Michelle Obama (L) wave from the balcony with Pope Francis (C) in an arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis walk down the West Wing Colonnade to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015.
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US Secretary of State (C) greets clergy as US Vice President Joe Biden (R) looks on before the arrival of Pope Francis at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama will host Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis waves from the back of his Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arriving from Cuba to the United States September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Supporters cheer for Pope Francis after he arrived from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop) Pope Francis (L) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis greets children alongside US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis (L) walks alongside US President Barack Obama (C) and US First Lady Michelle Obama (R) upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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US President Barack Obama (L) greets Pope Francis (R) upon his arrival September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis upon his arrival on September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden along with U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden along with U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis steps off his plane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Members of the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or The Old Guard, roll out the red carpet for Pope Francis ahead of his arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. The Pontiff will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis arrives to the United States from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Jaweed Kaleem/The Huffington Post
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Banners celebrating the visit of Pope Francis are hung ahead of his arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. The Pontiff will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images
Pope Francis T-shirts are seen for sale on a street corner near the White House on September 22, 2015 in Washington, DC.