Pope stops, turns around to bless disabled boy

APTOPIX US Pope Francis
In this photo provided by World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis kisses and blesses Michael Keating, 10, of Elverson, Pa after arriving in Philadelphia and exiting his car when he saw the boy, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, at Philadelphia International Airport. Keating has cerebral palsy and is the son of Chuck Keating, director of the Bishop Shanahan High School band that performed at Pope Francis' airport arrival. (Joseph Gidjunis/World Meeting of Families via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Chuck Keating had a job to do Saturday morning -- leading the Bishop Shanahan High School Band as they greeted Pope Francis on the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport.

When the music stopped, however, he had another goal: To get Pope Francis to bless his 10-year-old son Michael, who has cerebral palsy.  He got his wish.

After shaking hands and walking down the carpet, Francis got in his Fiat and began to drive away.  But when he saw Michael at the corner of the barricade in his chair, holding purple rosary beads on his lap, he swung around, stopped and got out.

The pope walked right up to Michael, laid his hand on Michael’s head, said a blessing over him, kissed Michael on the head, grabbed his mother's hand, grabbed his father's hand, and then touched Michael’s head again.

"I feel so blessed," said Kristin Keating. "I couldn't be happier."

“When he stopped the car and got out, that was unreal,” Chuck said.

It was what they had hoped for, but before the pope had even landed, Kristin said just being in his presence would be enough.  The family is from Elverson Borough in Berks County.

"I can't believe it," said Michael's grandmother Johanna Keating. "God planned it this way."

Michael's twin brother Chris and 13-year-old sister Katie were in tears as well. Some members of the band yelled "We love you, Francis!" when he pulled over to bless Michael.

It was an emotional moment for those watching as well.

All three of the Keating children are adopted, Chuck said. Michael and his brother Chris, identical twins, were born prematurely in Kansas. 

Chuck said he and his wife learned early on that Michael had disabilities, but have never regretted the adoption. “It’s been a blessing ever since,” Chuck said.