NEW YORK (WSVN) — New Yorkers are excited about Pope Francis’ visit because he likes to mingle with the crowds. New York Police are worried about Pope Francis’ visit because he likes to mingle with the crowds.

Included in the pontiff’s busy Big Apple itinerary, after he arrives Thursday, is a stop at Our Lady Queen of Angels, a Catholic elementary school in Harlem. Students said they cannot wait to greet him. "I’m nervous and excited, but I’m more on the excited side," said student Nicholas Marronaro.

Fellow student Allison Gonzalez knows exactly what she’s going to say to His Holiness. "What I am going to say is that I love him so much and give him a hug," she said.

One of the themes Pope Francis likes to discuss is poverty, and it’s no coincidence the majority of the kids at the school live below the poverty line. The pope will nevertheless remind them that their future is bright. "His message with children will be totally consistent with what we say: ‘You are a child of God. You are loved,’" said Our Lady Queen of Angels Principal Joanne Walsh.

Another of the pontiff’s recurring themes is compassion. That will take him to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum to meet with the families of the victims of Sept. 11. "We’re all humbled by the fact that he asked specifically to come here, that he sees this place as sacred ground, that he understands the import of what happened on 9/11," said memorial Director Alice Greenwald.

The pope will say Mass at Madison Square Garden and evening prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. His very first stop will be at St. Patrick’s, the largest cathedral in America, and crews have been rushing to restore it to its original state, including painting the exterior white. "It is an honor every time you mention working in St. Patrick’s," said crew member Chris Persaud.

Wednesday evening, parishioners flocked to the newly restored cathedral to pray. Some of them prayed to ask for something they never asked for before: a chance to meet Pope Francis. "I would hope so. I pray for that," said a woman. "That’s why I get inside, to ask God if I could."

If God answers Edgar’s prayers, he said he has a plan for the pontiff. "I would hug him, and probably, because I’m so touched, I would cry," he said.

About 500 people are expected to greet the pope at St. Patrick’s Thursday evening. He will enter down the center aisle to say his evening prayers and to thank 10 people responsible for the cathedral’s restoration.

Even though the visit is generating plenty of excitement, the Secret Service and New York Police have expressed concern because Pope Francis likes to break away and mingle with the crowds, to joke with them, to console babies, and even to take selfies.

Those tasked with protecting the pontiff said the job is nerve-wracking, but they added they’re ready to take on the challenge. "The pope wants to see the people, and the people want to see him, and I believe we have accommodated that through a lot of preparation and planning," said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Some New Yorkers who plan to line the streets to see Pope Francis told 7News they would also like to meet him. "Hopefully we could have a glimpse," said a woman.

When asked whether there’s a chance the pope will get out of his vehicle to greet people, the woman said, "Maybe, maybe. You don’t know."

Pope Francis has acknowledged his safety might be in danger when he wades into the crowds, but he has been quoted as saying, "The Lord has put me here. The Lord will take care of me."

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