SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The archbishop of San Francisco stopped by St. Joseph's Church in the Mission District Sunday afternoon to talk to 150 Pilgrims who will heading to Washington D.C. to see Pope Francis.
The Pontiff will arrive in the United States on Wednesday.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone oversees hundreds of thousands of Catholics in San Francisco and across Northern California. He will meet with the pope in couple days.
"I would not be surprised if he speaks about the environment and how it's connected with so many other issues, how the poor tend to suffer more from abuse of the environment. Now immigration and migration are certainly are very high profile right now with the refugees from Syria and other countries as well and of course immigration is a very significant issue here in our own country," Cordileone said.
While the pope is in Washington he will name a California Saint who Cordileone said has been called the founder of California.
Father Junipero Serra founded the first nine of California's 22 missions. On Wednesday, Francis will hold a special mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Serra is a controversial choice for sainthood. Many Native American Catholics blame Serra for the deaths of more than 150,000 of their people. Many were held against their will, beaten and even tortured.
"Certainly there were standards then that we wouldn't hold to now, especially around issues of corporal punishment," Cordileone said.
Francis previously apologized for the atrocities committed during Spanish colonialism. Making amends with native people appears to be his motivation in canonizing Serra. Among those who will take part in the ceremony will be descendants of Indians who built the missions.
"I am an Ohlone Indian from right here at Mission Dolores in San Francisco," Andrew Galvan said.
Galvan and his cousin Vincent Medina are curators at the Mission Dolores in San Francisco. The Vatican asked them to be a part of the canonization ceremony.
"As soon as the proclamation declaration is made, you will see me walking up to the main alter carrying father Serra's relic and it's a jazzed moment for me because I have been working for this since 1978," Galvan said.
Medina will play an important role too.
"He is going to read the first scripture reading in our native language, Chochenyo, which is the language of the San Francisco Bay Area," Galvan said.
Medina doesn't necessarily support Serra's rise to sainthood, but see's Serra's canonization as an opportunity to invite Native American's back into the church.
"Because the missions are part of our reality, we can't lie and say that missions never occurred, we can't ignore the fact that for over 230 years the mission has been part of our existence," Medina said.
Galvan and Medina's participation is just one of the many surprises we will likely see during the pope's visit.
ABC7 News' Ama Daetz is inWashington DC, the first of three cities the pope will visit when he arrives in the U.S. Watch her reports this week and join us as ABC7 News follows Pope Francis' historic trip.
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written and produced by Ken Miguel