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From VIS

The Holy See Press Office today published the programme of Benedict XVI’s forthcoming apostolic trip to the United States of America, including his visit to the headquarters of the United Nations, due to take place from 15 to 21 April.

The Pope will depart from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at midday on Tuesday 15 April and land at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington at 4 p.m. local time, where he will be greeted by U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife.

The welcome ceremony will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday 16 April, after which the Pope will make a courtesy visit to the U.S. president at the White House. That afternoon he will preside at the celebration of Vespers and hold a meeting with U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. on Thursday 17 April in the Nationals Stadium in Washington. At 5 p.m. on the same day he will participate in a meeting with representatives from Catholic universities at the Catholic University of America, also in Washington, then meet with representatives of other religions in the city’s Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre.

On the morning of Friday 18 April, the Holy Father will travel from Washington to New York where, at 10.45 a.m., he is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. That evening he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting at the church of St. Joseph in New York.

At 9.15 a.m. on Saturday, 19 April, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass with priests and religious in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He will then lunch with bishops of the archdiocese of New York and, at 4.30 p.m., preside at a meeting with young people and seminarians at the seminary of St. Joseph.

On Sunday 20 April, Benedict XVI is to visit “Ground zero” where he will pray for the victims of the attacks of 11 September 2001. At 2.30 p.m. he will celebrate Mass at New York’s Yankee Stadium.

The departure ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on the same day, at New York’s John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport. The papal plane is due to land at the Roman airport of Ciampino at 10.45 a.m. local time on Monday 21 April.


The deadline for tickets to the Papal Events in New York in most dioceses was last Friday, but some tickets may still be available for the Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington DC. The Archdiocese of Washington reports that there are 45,000 tickets for the Mass but demand for the tickets is so high that two Popemobile rides through the streets of DC have been added to the papal schedule. The exact route will be finalized and released at a later date.

The Archdiocese of New York reports that there were over 180,000 requests for the 90,000 tickets which were available for the Mass at Yankee Stadium, the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the meeting with youth at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. Approximately 58,000 tickets were granted for the Mass at Yankee Stadium.

I can’t imagine having the responsibility of planning this event, but here is a little peek in at the man who is in charge.

Maybe the hardest part of Mark G. Ackermann’s job is reading the letters that come in every day from people pleading for any chance to be close to their pope.

“They’re heart-rending stories of people who have been through great tragedy and just want to be somewhere near the Holy Father,” he said.

The problem is that there have been more than 180,000 requests for 90,000 total tickets for the six events that will take place in New York when Pope Benedict XVI visits from April 18-20.


Ackermann is executive director of the archdiocesan Office of the Papal Visit, a temp job that packs a decade’s worth of responsibility.

Reporting directly to Cardinal Edward Egan, he is in charge of planning for every papal minute from when Benedict arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport from Washington on April 18 to when he lifts off on Shepherd One about 8 p.m. April 20, heading for Rome.

It is a unique job that covers everything from planning security with the Secret Service and a litany of government agencies to preparing 550 priests and deacons to give Communion to 58,000 people at Yankee Stadium in 15 minutes.

“We’ve literally had walk-throughs at the stadium to figure out who is going to be where, how people are going to get out of their row – I was going to say pew – to receive Communion and get back to the same seat,” he said in his office at the archdiocese’s headquarters.


It’s not surprising that Ackermann believes that Pope Benedict’s stop at Ground Zero on the morning of April 20 promises to be the most poignant part of the papal visit.

“The Holy Father will actually go down and touch bedrock, spend a period of private prayer, bless the area and then visit with 24 individuals, some of whom lost loved ones in the attacks on our country,” he said.

Ackermann leads a 50-person Papal Visit Task Force that is kicking into high gear for an eight-week stretch that promises to fly by.

He spends about 20 percent of his time on security issues, working with the Secret Service, other federal agencies that he won’t identify, the New York City and Yonkers police departments, the papal security team and others.

“New York has been through a lot; this region has been through a lot,” he said. “The level of preparedness – people have no idea – when a major event happens is overwhelming.”

Then there are the protocol people from the White House, the State Department, the Vatican, city and state agencies.

Then there are the logistics. A database, growing by the day, will include the names of every person ticketed to every event. It’s a requirement of the Secret Service.

For the pope’s youth rally at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers on April 19, more than 20,000 youngsters from across the region will be bused to Yonkers Raceway. From there, they will be shuttled to the seminary, where Secret Service will be waiting to check bar-coded tickets.

“Nationally known entertainment” is being lined up for both the seminary and Yankee Stadium, Ackermann said.

More than 800 buses will descend on the stadium April 20, bringing representatives from all 195 dioceses in the United States. After hours of waiting, they’ll see Benedict celebrate Mass from a stage above second base – assisted by more than 200 cardinals and bishops and some 800 priests.

And that’s not all.

About 250 Christian leaders from across the country have to get to St. Joseph’s Church in Manhattan on April 18 for an ecumenical prayer service.

A good 2,500 priests, deacons and nuns will fill St. Patrick’s Cathedral on April 19, when Benedict becomes the first pope to celebrate Mass there.

Hundreds of volunteers are being enlisted (and checked out) for all the events.

Every step the pope will take – every left turn, every right turn – is choreographed in a big book that Ackermann keeps close at hand. But who’s to say Benedict won’t get out of line, like when John Paul II popped out of St. Patrick’s in 1995 and walked down 50th Street?

“In this post-9/11 world, I’m not sure we’ll see that kind of spontaneity, but not every step can be choreographed,” Ackermann said.

Ackermann will be near the pope’s side the whole time, of course, but he can’t be more specific than that. Security reasons.

And when Benedict leaves and the Office of the Papal Visit evaporates? On April 22, Ackermann has to give a speech in Calgary about emergency preparedness for hospitals. He committed to it more than a year ago.

Then he will take a non-temp job with the archdiocese, which he prefers not to identify for now. He has more immediate concerns.

Like the 100,000 ponchos he’ll need in case the pope brings rain.

I am exhausted just reading about it, and please no RAIN!

Update: The Archdiocese of New York has two more tickets which they are holding a drawing for. Anyone can enter. Click here for more info.

Just a reminder that time is running out. Only 61 days until Shepherd One touches down on American soil.

I have my tickets, do you?
If not, contact your local diocese ASAP!

For those interested in attend the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium I have the following ticket information.

Boston will be getting 3,000 tickets. Tickets will be distributed to people registered in parishes located in the Archdiocese. Bus transportation to New York has also been arranged.

Charlotte will be getting 100 tickets. Anyone can apply, but the diocese has already recieved over 150 requests. Tickets will be granted through a lottery.

Chicago will be getting 100 tickets. Pastors at each of Chicago’s 363 parishes have been asked to submit four nominees. Winners will be chosen by lottery.

Syracuse will be getting 500 tickets. There are no tickets remaining.

Philadelphia is getting an undisclosed number of tickets, but I assume it is 3,000. The application period ended on Jan 24th.

Louisville is getting 650 tickets. All tickets have been reserved.

Fall River recieved 100 tickets. All tickets have been reserved.

Based on this information I will assume that dioceses celebrating bicentennials will recieve 3,000 tickets and other dioceses will recieve 100 tickets.

Ticket information for the Mass in Washington DC has not been released yet.

Check out the event website for details.

Update: For those who can’t get tickets, the Archdiocese of Boston is building a website which will have full coverage of all the papal events. It’s not up yet, but the address will be:

Update: Dallas has 150 tickets to the Mass in Washington and 10 tickets to the Mass in New York for parishioners on parishes in the diocese.

UPDATE: (March 10, 2008) The Archdiocese of New York is running a contest where one lucky person will win a trip to New York and two tickets to the Pontifical Mass at Yankee Stadium. More info here.

Sean Cardinal O’Malley has invited Pope Benedict to visit Boston for the Bicentennial of the Archdiocese.

Cardinal O’ Malley told the Boston Globe:

“Given everything Boston has been through, having the Holy Father come, I think, would be a great joy and a sense of affirmation to us as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of our church,”

I am not surprised that he was invited and I hope that he accepts the invitation. Since he has accepted the invitation to visit New York, Pope Benedict has been invited to visit many dioceses in the United States.

Read the Boston Globe article here.

Here is a weird article I found today.

Apparently rumors are circulating that Pope Benedict forgot a very important piece of paper when he traveled to Brazil.

From the International Herald Tribune:

Even the pope needs a passport.
But did Benedict XVI forget his when he flew to Brazil this month for his first papal visit to the world’s largest Roman Catholic country?

A respected Brazilian newspaper columnist insists the pope didn’t have it with him when he landed in Sao Paulo, and high-ranking officials from the Vatican to Brazil’s presidential palace aren’t commenting.

Merval Pereira, who writes for Rio’s O Globo newspaper, reported Tuesday that the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also showed up in Brazil without his passport.

The two were allowed to enter the country, but Pereira said the government found a way to penalize the oversight without causing a stir. It quietly fined Italian airline Alitalia SpA for allowing the two foreigners to travel without documentation to Brazil.

Read the complete article here.

The Holy Father is on his way to Brazil. He left Rome’s Fiumiocino airport this morning and should be arriving in São Paolo around 5:30 est.

While in São Paolo, he will be staying at the monastery of São Bento (Saint Benedict).

Here is a link to the schedule for this trip.

As a person of Portuguese descent, I am delighted that Pope Benedict has chosen to visit Brazil.

Pray with me for him and the people of Brazil:

Avé Maria, cheia de graça, o Senhor é convosco.
Bendita sois vós entre as mulheres;
bendito é o fruto do vosso ventre, Jesus.
Santa Maria, mãe de Deus, rogai por nós, pecadores,
agora e na hora da nossa morte.

Don’t know when, but Pope Benedict XVI has accepted an invitation to come to New York City to visit the U.N. Headquarters.
I’ll be following this closely!

The Vatican released the following report:

Yesterday afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. announced that Benedict XVI has accepted the invitation presented recently by Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, to visit the headquarters of that organization in New York.

“The Pope,” said Fr. Lombardi, “has accepted the invitation in general terms, and has expressed his willingness to visit the U.N. headquarters, although as yet there is no date or program for the trip.”

Servant of God John Paul II visited the U.N. headquarters in 1979, and again in 1995 for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the organization.

Update – (April 5th)
The Rome Postings will resume after the Triduum.

Special thanks to Amy Welborn for posting about this series.

Day One – The Flight
Day Two – The Audience
Day Three – Touring Rome
Day Four – The Consistory
Day Four – The Apostolic Palace

This post is giving me nothing but problems. I have attempted to post it 6 times. One time it worked but without all the pictures. Then I tried to fix it and ended up losing everything so I have to start all over again. I am frustrated.

Friday, March 24, 2006 was the day of the consistory and the surrounding receptions. It was absolutely exhausted, and exhilirating all at the same time.

Our day started early this morning at 5 am. Thankfully, the clothes that we sent to the laundry to be pressed came back perfect. We tried to get washed and ready in the incredibly small bathroom and “cell”. We kept tripping over each other.

Piazza Sant’ Ufficio

Somehow we did get ready and by 6:30 we were having breakfast. At 7 I looked out the window and saw that people were already beginning to line up to for the consistory. So, we left the hotel and joined the 40-50 people who were waiting in line. As we waited we watched the people who work in the Vatican coming to work through the Piazza Sant’ Ufficio and the various delivery trucks coming to make their deliveries. The Americans who were in line were fascinated to see a Coca-Cola truck delivering to the Vatican. We were all freezing cold and hoping that it wouldn’t rain. The skies were threatening and there were occasional rumbles of thunder. Fortunately, the rain held off until the consistory ended. Then the downpour began.

Within 20 minutes the line of 50 had become a massive crowd of several thousand which kept growing.

The barricade was opened at 8:30 and we were sent through security. We walked though metal detectors and our bags were x-rayed. People started pushing and running to get ahead, but the Swiss Guard and Vatican Police put a stop to that. Several guards called out to people, “Remember you ARE in church!” Some people who tried to force their way to good seats were detained by the guards and made to wait a few minutes.

We found some excellent seats in the middle of the first row. We were right next to the television camera. In the section in front of us, there were a few rows reserved for the cardinal’s families and visiting heads of state.

Archbishop Marini rehearsing with the servers

The square was buzzing with activity as gardeners made last minute changes to flowers. They even laid sod. Altar servers rehearsed under Archbishop Marini’s careful direction. Microphones were tested, furniture was repositioned and red hats were counted.

The Cardinals-elect

The choir stood against the wall of St. Peter’s and was almost not able to be seen. The monsignori sat on the left, behind the Holy Father. The Cardinals were in front of them and the bishops were in front of them sitting slightly askew.
The Gentlemen of the Vatican and their wives sat on the right along with more bishops.

Cardinal-Elect O’Malley

The new cardinals processed from the Apostolic Palace to the sagrato of the basilica. Seeing Bishop Sean in his cardinatial robes was such a moving experience brought me to tears. Literally tears of joy. He sat on the sagrato, directly in front of us. I was surprised when he noticed us and waved.

Pope Benedict walking to his chair

It wasn’t long before Pope Benedict appeared in procession from the central doors of the basilica. The organ and choir sounded beautiful. Actually, the entire liturgy was spectacular.

The moment!

The new cardinal

One of the moments which caused a outpouring of emotion was when Cardinal Dery, from Ghana, was carried up the steps to the pope in his wheelchair. Pope Benedict rose, leaned down and embraced him. It was a loving, tender gesture of love and respect towards the 87 year old cardinal which got a huge “Awwww!” from the congregation.

After the liturgy, we left the square along with the massive crowd. We returned quickly to our hotel for a few minutes then headed to the Pontifical North American College. It was a short walk through a tunnel, a parking garage and a hill. Once we got to the PNAC we were surrounded by familiar faces. It was nice to see so many people from the Diocese of Fall River. There were also many people from the Archdiocese of Washington, where Cardinal O’Malley served as a priest for many years, and from the Diocese of Palm Beach.

The reception was in honor of both Cardinal O’Malley and Cardinal Levada, so there were many people from the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Several of the people at our table were from San Francisco and three others were theology students at the Angelicum. Since it is a Friday of Lent, lunch was eggs every which way and pasta.

William Cardinal Levada

After we ate, we joined the lines to greet both Cardinal O’Malley and Cardinal Levada. I must admit to being nervous to speak with the successor of Cardinal Ratzinger. However, he was very nice. I don’t know what I was afraid of. It’s not like I have never talked with a cardinal before, but it is the first time I have talked with anyone who works so closely with the pope.

Photos by Domini Sumus

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