Making plans for the pope's US visit

February 12, 2008 5:48:00 PM PST
An upcoming papal visit to New York has Catholics in our area scrambling for coveted tickets. The historic visit is an opportunity for one of the Vatican's newest cardinals to be part of the pageantry. It'll be considered a prized ticket, being able to attend the public papal masses in Washington DC and in New York. Pope Benedict the 16th is scheduled to arrive in the US just days after the Houston dedication of the co-cathedral, making it a whirlwind of activity for Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.

He said, "But now that I've been named a cardinal, not only do I go with the bishops to Washington and New York, but there is a special place for the cardinals and we do get to greet him on his arrival and stay with him until he returns to Rome."

This is Pope Benedict's first visit to the United States since his elevation two years ago. The visit is seen as an important acknowledgement.

Father Leon Streider of St. Mary's Seminary explained, "To recognize our importance, to recognize all the issues we are facing in terms of growth and vocation and evangelization."

The rush is already on to get tickets to the public papal masses. Pope Benedict's visit begins April 15th in Washington DC with an official state visit. The pontiff will then address the United Nations in New York. He will also celebrate mass at stadiums in both cites.

"There are some public tickets available," said Cardinal DiNardo. "It is my understanding that preference is going to be given to those archdioceses celebrating their anniversaries."

While the archdiocese does not know how many tickets they'll get, the amount will be extremely limited. Christopher Plant is lucky -- he won't need a ticket, and he'll be part of a private papal audience in New York between seminarians and the pope.

"Absolutely, that's why it wasn't even a hesitation when they told me the pope was coming to New York, I said, 'I'm going to New York. I don't care how,'" Plant recalled.

Sixty seminarians from Houston will travel to New York to meet with the pope. However, to attend the public masses, the Galveston-Houston archdiocese suggests getting in contact with your local parish to try and get a coveted ticket.

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