Delegates of Special Olympics will meet Pope Francis
A delegation consisting of athletes, organizers and representatives of Special Olympics International, Special Olympics Austria, the Austrian province of Styria and the Diocese Graz-Seckau will meet Pope Francis on the occasion of a private audience on February 16 to ask for his blessings for the upcoming Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 that will take place between March 14 and 25 in Schladming, Ramsau and Graz.
The late Hermann Kröll, founding father and President of Special Olympics Austria had already addressed the request to Franz Lackner, the Archbishop of Salzburg who was then responsible for sport questions in the Austrian bishops’ conference. Soon the delegation headed by Bishop Wilhelm Krautwaschl will have the opportunity to meet Pope Francis - also in memory of Hermann Kröll.
Athletes from Austria and Italy will stand in the front row together with Mary Davis, Special Olympics International CEO, who will come to the private audience with international partners from the United States and Italy. Jürgen Winter, President of Special Olympics Austria, and Marc Angelini, Vice-president and co-executive manager of the organization of the World Winter Games 2017 together with Markus Pichler, will travel to Vatican together with the delegates from Graz. The members of the delegation of the Austrian Province Styria: Provincial Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer, Deputy Provincial Governor Michael Schickhofer, members of the Styrian provincial government Christian Buchmann (tourism) and Anton Lang (sports) and Siegfried Nagl (Mayor of Graz). Delegates for the Diocese Graz-Seckau: Erich Hohl (Integration Officer), Bernd Kindermann (Executive Director of the Diocesan Sport Community, DSG), Hermenegild Luttenberger (Head of the Division Disabled Sports of DSG) and Alfred Jokesch (Spiritual Advisor of DSG), as well as Andreas Lechner (parish dean of Schladming).
The scheduled two-day program (February 15 and 16) in Rome includes a guided tour of the Vatican, a reception at the Austrian Embassy and a visit of Santa Maria dell' Anima, a pontifical college for priests and hospice for German-speaking pilgrims.