Well yesterday turned out to be lucky. As many of you know, the Pope Francis will becoming to the United States and will be stopping in New York City. Actually he will be going to three cities, Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. The climax of the trip is supposed to be the Sunday mass in Philadelphia, so the New York City diocese was instructed to not plan a huge Mass in Central Park such as Pope Saint John Paul II did in 1995. The numbers of people New York City can generate (we have a population of over 9 million, plus some twenty-something million in the suburbs) would overshadow anything Philadelphia could put together, and the Holy See wanted Philadelphia to be the focus of attention. Still the Holy Father recently added a walk through Central park to the agenda where he will meet New Yorkers of all types. That should be interesting and I hope we New Yorkers will be on our best behavior.
However, in lieu of a Mass in Central Park which could generate a turnout of millions, there will be a Mass in Madison Square Garden which I think can hold about 20,000 or so, depending on the affair. Many years ago (1982 I think) I saw the Rolling Stones perform there, and then in the early 2000’s I saw Andrea Bocelli perform there. I was also taken to some tractor, big wheels crush little cars show there once by my uncle, but I don’t remember when. My friends go there all the time to watch the NY Rangers hockey team play there, but, not being a hockey fan, I’ve never gone. It holds all sorts of events.
So yesterday my Parish, St. Rita, was given 24 tickets for people to attend. Our pastor, Fr. Eugene, made it clear it will not be an easy day. You will have to show up by public transportation, must arrive there at 2:30 PM, and pass through a metal detector. The Mass will start at 6:30, so you will have to wait four hours before the event actually begins. I also assume this will be longer than your typical hour Mass, so one could expect it to end at about 8 PM at the earliest, and for security reasons so that the Pope and all the dignitaries can make a safe and easy exit, one will have to wait a good half hour to forty-five minutes before mass exit can start. Now given all that, our pastor said it might be more worthwhile to watch it on television. Still if anyone wants a ticket and we have more than 24 parishioners who want to attend, there will be a raffle that evening.
Given all that, would you want to go? I’m wondering if I’m crazy but I did want to go.
After thinking about it all day I decided I would like to go. As it turned out, that Friday, the 25th I will have a scheduled day off, and so I would be free to go. Plus I figured I could get some reading done while I had to wait doing nothing. So I showed up as one desiring a ticket.
As it turned out 34 parishioners showed up, so there was a raffle. Names were placed in a basket, we prayed over the names, and then one by one there were picked out.
Drum roll please….as it turned out I was selected somewhere around thirteen or fourteen! Yay, I will be going to the Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden. Of course pictures to follow! Assuming I’m allowed to bring in a camera. I don't see why not.