Rome, Italy won't seem so far away come April, when New York City hosts Pope Benedict XVI for a two-day stay that includes a public mass at Yankee Stadium. The Syracuse Catholic Diocese was given 600 tickets for the mass April 20 to distribute among church members in its seven-county spread. It was sold out in no time.
Dana Sheridan, who is a 10-year communicant of Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville, was fortunate to get three tickets for her family. She plans to take her two young sons, Cormac and Emer.
"Just being in the presence of the Pope, I think, will be inspiring," she said. "I actually hope that my kids are moved by the experience, and the experience will be all of the thousands and thousands of people going to see the Pope and then the Pope giving us a blessing."
Sheridan's husband Paraic is a native of Ireland and saw Pope John Paul II when he was a young boy at the age of 12. Dana said he still remembers the experience to this day.
"It's just a very moving moment," she said. "I just wanted to pass that on to my kids and even myself, just to experience the aura of being with the Pope."
For East Syracuse resident MaryLou McAllister, seeing the Pope is like a dream come true.
"I never imagined that I ever in my lifetime would have the opportunity to see the Pope," McAllister said. She will travel with her husband Joe, another couple and Father Joseph Clemente of St. Matthews Church. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The diocese received 950 requests for tickets, said Kate Anderson, administrative assistant for Bishop James Moynihan. The free passes were distributed on a first come first served basis. By last Friday's deadline, 576 names were handed in to the Archdiocese of New York. Twenty-four tickets went unused due to last minute cancellations.
Late last week, the Syracuse Diocese received another 200 tickets specifically intended for its youth to join an all-day rally on Saturday April 19. The Pope will then make an appearance at some point in the afternoon, said Bob Walters, diocesen director for youth and young adult ministry. The deadline for registration is Feb. 25, which is also on a first-come first-served basis. Visit syracuseyouth.org for more information.