Fr. Michael Pfleger, the pastor of St. Sabina Church, will join the crowds in Washington D.C. next week at the historic joint session of Congress when Pope Francis speaks.
The outspoken priest told NBC Chicago he expects the pope to address the issue of violence in the U.S. during his first visit to the country.
"I can't imagine he's not going to address the violence," Pfleger said. "He has addressed it in Rome, and I can't imagine him not when he's coming to a country where guns have become part of America's reputation and wardrobe."
Other Illinoisans will join Pfleger in the audience as well, including Fr. Marco Mercado, who leads the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mercado is Congressman Luis Gutierrez's guest for the congressional speech.
"This is a symbolism of unity, and I think that what we need is a lot of unity, a lot of healing," Mercato said.
The pope will also attend the World Meeting on Families. Churches across the country have seen a "Francis effect" as more Catholics show up to Mass. Called "the people's pope," Francis has appealed to a demographic that may have previously turned away from the church.
"While he's here in the United States, he's insisted his agenda includes time to meet with the people who otherwise might not be involved in these high ceremonies and events," said Fr. Pat McGrath of Loyola Academy.
Pope Francis arrived in Cuba Saturday, and he will make his way to the U.S. on Tuesday.