New Yorker is longtime friend of Pope Francis

- Father Hernan Paredes is a friend of Pope Francis -- a good friend. He knows the pope's likes and dislikes. He will tell you with confidence that his holiness is a fantastic cook and a fairly good driver. Just don't ask the pope to sing or play you an instrument. Francis is a man with a wicked sense of humor and a true Argentinian who loves to watch the San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer club. And longs for the simplicity he once had outside the Vatican's walls. These are the things you know when you're a friend of 30 years.

Their story begins, like that of so many young priests, in a seminary school in Argentina. Then-Jorge Bergoglio was the superior of the school and Hernan was a student. Over the course of Hernan's studies, Jorge emerged a spiritual mentor and confidant.

Life has taken these friends in very different directions. Father Paredes's mission brought him to New York City to teach at the St. Ignatius Loyola School on Manhattan's Upper East Side. And Jorge is now the most recognizable person on the planet. But at his core his old friend says Pope Francis is the same.

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Like friends do, the men catch up often by exchanging emails and the occasional phone call and visit. Father parades visited Pope Francis at the Vatican in July. It was the first time Paredes saw his old friend in his new role at his new home.

They talked openly about his holiness's upcoming trip to the states. And Pope Francis--ever the food lover--is most excited for one New York staple: pizza.

It's a trip, Pope Francis has been told, that New Yorkers are very excited about. He too, reportedly, can't wait to touch down. But-perhaps no one is more excited than Father Paredes for a chance to see his old buddy again.
 

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