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Patrick Sweeney 19711971
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Saturday, April 19, 2008
 
Live Blogging from the Pope's visit to New York

In preparation for the Pope's visit I contacted Catholic Answers and through their generosity obtained 1,000 copies of their booklet We have a Pope. It would be my job to distribute them. Friday

I went to St. Malachy's, even before arriving I helped some Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who were given an incorrect address to the Church to get to the church. I met up with some members of the Catholic Evidence Guild and they distributed them to mostly indifferent New Yorkers. The first wave were my fellow New Yorkers on their way from the office to the subway or bus terminal. The second wave were people on their way to Friday night Broadway musicals and plays. St. Malachy's is also known as The Actor's Chapel. People would wave at us from the tour buses and cab riders and drivers would hold out their hand and accept one.

As time passed some more Franciscan Friars and Sisters of Life arrived along with their young lay volunteers to distribute prayer cards and greet people in the name of the Church.

I shared with them Fr. Groeschel's joke on the difference between New York and Los Angeles. In L.A. people smile but don't know why they are smiling but they do. In New York people wear a frown and they know why they frown.

We were all drawn there to pray to God, in thanks for the Pope and to pray for the success of his mission here. It was publicized in many places to the sort of people who get updated on Catholic life here in New York. This notice is from GodSpy

We had adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We had Evening Prayer (vespers). This is the first time I heard Fr. Richard Baker liturgically sing. He has a wonderful voice. I was sitting in the front but could see the church fill. Remarkably, tourists gave up a Friday night in New York City to be in church. Even a Evangelical minister and his staying in a nearby hotel attended. Two (hopefully) future priests attended, my son and a friend from Cathedral Prep.

As planned, we processed quite rapidly from Eight Avenue and West 49th Street (St. Malachy's Way) to the residence of the Vatican United Nations observer. at 20 East 72nd Street. About 2 miles (from: 239 west 49th street to: 20 east 72nd street, new york, ny) We took the Madison Ave route so we walked past St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Along the way, we were praying, a friar had a guitar and was singing and my little group was handing out tracts to people. At this time and place we mostly encountering tourists.

We began to pass some elegant restaurants who because of the unseasonably warm weather who were really alarmed as the cloud of witnesses to Jesus were singing, praying, and praising on their way to meet his vicar.

Upon arrival we could see a large crowd gathering and waiting. We joined them. About 300 feet away there was a commotion and then we were told that His Holiness came down to the street to greet and bless the crowd. And it was time to go home.

Saturday

Today's plan was to distribute 600 copies of "We Have a Pope."

I arrived as the Mass was in progress. A small number of people were admitted to a secured zone near the Cathedral at 50th Street and even a smaller group admitted to the Mass. I would work the multitudes above 57th Street.

My progress as an evangelist. Smiling helps. I began to realize that bad seed was being spread: anti-Catholic tracts (i.e. the Pope is the Anti-Christ) and something called "Bayside - the facts revealed" (the "rad-trads"). Then I saw the vendors selling flags, pennants, and t-shirts. So I shouted "Free! We have a Pope. It's all about the Pope. It's pro-Catholic. It's pro-Pope. And best of all it's free." When people saw one being given out with no money changing hands, they descended upon me This was huge group that was hard to characterize: it consisted of nearby New Yorkers, the simply curious; the tourists who were there because it was the place to be in New York on this day; visitors who might be called pilgrims with banners like "Communion and Liberation" and the "Neo-Catechumical Way." No one had a bad thing to say about the Pope.

I saw an Associated Press cameraman-reporter doing an interview and boldly volunteered to be interviewed. I was asked "why are people here?" I answered "To celebrate their Catholic identity. The vicar of Christ has come to our city and we want to welcome him. It's a good day to be Catholic." I was asked what about the scandal "I believe that Pope has acknowledged the crimes and mistakes in a very forceful way, but that's not the reason for his visit. He comes to bring us the hope that is Christ." I was asked "What's your overall impression?" I said "Like today's weather, it's a new springtime for the Church in America." If not me, please let some positive person's interview get aired. The reporter smiled.

The mood of the crowd in a word "bored" because people were under the impression that he would be traveling from the Cathedral to the residence at the end of the Mass (or 11:30am), the Pope made the trip nearly two hours later. But the moment came and the crowd went wild and I had distributed 1,000 copies of "We Have a Pope".

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