Pope Francis speaks to bishops during the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthews in Washington Wednesday. Credit: POOL | Getty Images

An anonymous donor is celebrating Pope Francis’ much-anticipated visit to the U.S. by giving $60,000 to help Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland build a house as part of its 13-home development project in Scarborough. The new so-called Pope Francis House will become home to a family of Somalian Muslims — Sharmarke Hussein, Hoodo Yussuf and their four children.

“The Pope Francis House symbolizes building a bridge between different religions; we’re all working together for one goal,” said Hussein in a statement.

According to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland, the anonymous benefactor made the donation in the name of Pope Francis because of the pontiff’s “commitment to social justice and reinvigorating the Catholic Church,” as well as “to provide a unifying, celebratory opportunity for both Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers to work towards a common goal.”

Habitat construction crews and volunteers are slated to begin building new homes in the 13-house development on Broadturn Road in mid-October. The organization plans to sell five as affordable homes through the Scarborough Housing Alliance, while eight are traditional Habitat homes — which qualifying families help pay for with sweat equity, by working to build the homes they’ll ultimately live in.

Volunteers and donors are still being sought to help finish the Pope Francis House. To help, volunteers and donors are asked to call 772-2151 or visit the Habitat website.

“We are honored to be a part of a project celebrating Pope Francis and his many acts of goodwill, inclusiveness, and compassion,” said organization Executive Director Godfrey Wood in a statement. “The generosity of this donor is inspiring and gives us a great start on the construction of this home.”

In his first visit to the U.S. Wednesday, Pope Francis addressed a crowd of 11,000 people on the White House South Lawn, where he discussed the urgency of responding to climate change and the importance of rebuilding diplomatic relations between America and Cuba.

“I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development,” Francis said in his remarks, according to CNN.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, posted photos of the event to his Instagram account. King invited Rev. Mike Seavey of Portland to be his guest in Washington, D.C. for the pope’s visit.

Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland joined other U.S. bishops for a midday prayer with Pope Francis, among other events scheduled for the pontiff throughout the rest of the week.

Additionally, Freeport-based Thos. Moser Handmade American Furniture was tapped to build the chair in which Pope Francis will sit during the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families Sunday.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.