Papal tickets go fast: Pope's visit a 'once-in-a-lifetime' chance

Pete Skiba

Pope Benedict XVI left 143,000 faithful disappointed when tickets to worship with him April 20 in at Yankee Stadium became available a few weeks ago, a Norwich Diocese spokesman said.

While 200,000 people in the Northeast tried to get tickets to the Papal Mass, Yankee Stadium could only hold 57,000.

According to Diocese Spokesman Michael Strammiello, 500 members of the Norwich Diocese have tickets to attend the Mass in New York City, the last stop on the pope’s six-day tour. Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States begins April 15 and includes stops in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

The diocese received 500 tickets to the Yankee Stadium Mass. Several weeks ago, priests in each parish announced the tickets were available on a first-come-first served basis and the dash to get them began.

Brenda Peter of Norwich, the mother of six, needed eight tickets for her whole family to attend. She initially got only three. Later, tickets became available when people decided not to go and eventually she met her quota.

“I keep saying, ‘it is the pope, it is the pope.’ We would like to go to Italy, but when the pope comes here it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” Peter said. “My 9-year-old daughter prayed very, very hard and we got eight tickets.” 

 The Rev. Greg P. Galvin, a priest at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, received an invitation to be part of the Papal Mass.

“I won’t be celebrating the Mass,” Galvin explained Wednesday. “I’ll be helping distribute communion during the Mass. I’m excited about the pope’s visit.”

The pope will arrive in Washington aboard his plane, Shepherd One. He plans to meet President George W. Bush and will be only the second pontiff to visit the White House.

While in the nation’s capital, the pope plans to meet with bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In New York, he will speak at the United Nations.

In these troubled times the pope’s message is bound to be one of peace, said Leslie Trahan of Gales Ferry, who attends St. Patrick Cathedral.

“We cannot be at peace unless we respect all life,” Trahan said. “I really wish people would listen to the pope, because he is full of wisdom.”

Leaving Wednesday’s 7 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral, other parishioners said they hoped the visit would attract others to their faith, energize youth in the church and attract men to the priesthood.

“No matter if it is a visit from a bishop or the pope,” Galvin said. “Vocations seem to go up after the visit. It is also great for the young to see the pope in our country.”

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  • Pope Benedict XVI will arrive April 15 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
  • The pope will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. April 17 at Nationals Park in Washington. The Mass will be televised live on ABC, according to the Norwich Diocese.
  • The pope will celebrate Mass at 2:30 p.m. April 20 at Yankee Stadium in New York.
  • The pontiff’s schedule also includes dinner with President Bush at the White House, a speech at the United Nations and a visit to Ground Zero.
  • The pope’s plane, Shepherd One, takes off at 8 p.m. April 20 from John F. Kennedy Airport to return him to Vatican City


  • Given name: Joseph Ratzinger.
  • Age: 80.
  • Born: April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Germany.
  • Raised: In Traunstein, near the Austrian border.
  • Military service: Auxiliary anti-aircraft corps at end of World War II.
  • Ordination: June 29, 1951.
  • University: 1953 earned doctorate in theology.
  • Appointments: Archbishop in March 1977; cardinal in June 1977.
  • Elected pope: April 19, 2005.