Doria2’s Report from the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium

Doria2’s Report from the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium – 4/20/08

First of all, we heard awhile back that the parish would be receiving a set amount of tickets for Yankee Stadium and there would be a drawing as to who gets to go.

It was the only fair way.

I decided, being that I never win anything, that I wouldn’t even bother. Besides, what are the chances that both my wife Marie and I both would win? Slim and none! And if I can’t go with Marie I just ain’t goin’!

BUT, as Marie would say, I’m thankful for the small miracles that happen in my life everyday. And they DO happen!

Turns out, two good friends, former co-worker and parishioner Gene Marchesi and his wife Julie who works with Marie, sing in a choir that would be singing for the Pope at Yankee Stadium were given two tickets apiece and they graciously gave them to us.

The seats were unbelievable. Right behind the Yankee dugout where Pope Benedict disembarked from the Pope mobile and went to put on his vestments. RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!! We were less than two hundred feet away!

Turns out sadly, that Gene and Julie couldn’t make it because Julie became ill with a bad cold. This was the only downside to the whole day and I will be eternally grateful to them for thinking of us and allowing us to attend this great event. They’re real good people.

I would like to dedicate this story to them, so let’s start at the beginning.

The day started bright and early filed with excitement as my wife Marie and I prepared to go to Yankee Stadium to see His Holiness Benedict XVI.

We were told to be in our parish Church?s parking lot at 9:30 sharp. We arrived at 9:28 only to find that the bus was full!!! Panic time!!! We begged the bus driver to let us stand in the aisle but to no
avail. He told us that he called his dispatcher and that he would send us a mini bus within 30 minutes (there were three others with us, Tom, his wife Janet, and Suzy).

Forty five minutes went by and nothing.

I said a short prayer, “Lord, ya gotta let this happen.”

Within a few minutes a small bus was seen, but going in the opposite direction from where we were standing. It was empty and I strained to see where it was going when it disappeared over the hill. I was saying to myself, “Please make a u-turn, please make a u- turn!!”

Sure enough, it came back down the street BUT it passed us. It stopped at the corner of Tuckahoe Rd. and Central Ave., an intersection that’s known for its long, long street lights. It takes four light changes to get to your light and it was on the first one, so Marie took off running down the street (my knees are shot) caught the bus ,and asked the driver if she was looking for 707 Tuckahoe Rd. and she said yes but she would be back in a few minutes (turns out she had to go to the bathroom).

Now it’s approaching 10 and we were told that Yankee Stadium would be on lock-down at noon.

No one in and no one out … and we figured traffic would be a nightmare. Well, Evie did get back and we loaded up. The first hing she said was, “Just wanna warn you that that I don’t drive like a lady.”

I said Yeeeeah, and step on it! We made it from Central Avenue and Tuckahoe Rd. to the Yankee Stadium exit on the NYS Thruway in under 15 minutes. The security was unbelievable (you would think the Pope was visiting or something).

Anyway, we got out of the bus and had to walk a few blocks to get to the Stadium along with what seemed like an ocean of humanity of all colors, shapes and sizes (that’s Catholicism, folks) buses everywhere, even parked blocks away from the Stadium outside of parking lots.

We arrived at the very crowded front gates and there were metal detectors everywhere, sort of like when you board a plane at an airport. We finally got to the detectors and were told that we had to take all metal out of our pockets. WELLLL, I had keys, Rosaries, rings, necklaces, cell phone, I mean, I was loaded up, emptied my pockets and still had to be frisked with the wand. It was great!!

Ok, we get into the stadium and start looking for our seats. A sea of people around us. I usually get discombobulated in these type of scenes. Thank God Marie was there. She takes stock and will usually get me where I’m going while I’m still reading the ticket and looking around like a 4 year old.

Tom, Janet, and Suzy were in another section. We were to meet outside the Stadium, by the big baseball bat. (But that’s another story).

We found our seats and began to take it all in. Incidentally, we arrived before the bus that we missed. We were there close to an hour before Gene’s son Anthony showed up. You see, God takes care of fools and
idiots like me. So we settled back and started to enjoy.

Me, not being one who was there for the entertainment, told Marie (after Anthony arrived) and was seated, that I’m walking around a bit. I was there for the Pope and could care less that Jose Feliciano and Harry Connick Jr. would sing for the crowd. Warming us up I guess.

As we say in New York, I didn’t need no warmin’ up. I’m going to explore, check out all of the people, buy some souvenirs to be blessed, go to the bathroom … whatever.

I start walking. Lines at the food counters were unbelievable. Must be like a Yankee – Boston game would be like so I decide to use the men’s room and I use the word men cautiously here. I get on line and notice
women were on line too so I look up at the men’s room sign. I figured maybe the “Wo” in women must have fallen off or something. Nope! It said “Men” alright and the people around me were joking that that the
women?s bathrooms were a mad house, and they didn’t care. They were goin’ in the men’s room. OOOOOOOOOk.

I get into the men’s room and there’s this cop saying. “Ok.” Women, cover your eyes and walk this way. Men that way.” It was hilarious.

As I’m walking out I yell out, “OOOOOnly Catholics
could get away with this you know?” … to much laughter.

Now, I get on a line because I underdressed and we were sitting in the shaded part of the stadium and I wanted to buy some kind of shirt or something. Anything. I was freezing.

While on line I see this young priest standing to my right against the wall just watching people go by. He
was dressed like an altar boy but had the gold and white linen around his neck and I say to him, would you mind hearing my confession? (I couldn?t get to confession Saturday because I was at Yonkers Raceway
volunteering for transportation for the kids who were up at St. Joseph’s Seminary).

He said sure, so we took a few minutes and there I was receiving the Sacrament of Confession at gate 21, Main Level, Yankee Stadium. These are things of which legendary stories are made, folks. One for the family archives. Confession at Gate 21 !

Now for something to eat. I pick the shortest line and walk back to my seat and Marie and I shared lunch ? a jumbo bag of popcorn. Plenty of time for eating later.

Well I’m sure most, if not all of you watched on TV as the clergy filed in and our beloved Holy Father made his entrance and celebrated Mass. It was an awesome experience. One moment loud cheering and the next, so quiet one could hear the 57,000 seats squeak as people sat down.

When it came time to receive Holy Communion, I’m thinking, “No way. No way 57,000 people are going to receive.” BUT, they did it. No arguments, no pushing and shoving, everyone waiting patiently ? Catholic folks at their best. It was something to behold.

It took awhile to get out of the stadium and back to the bus, but Evie got us home in record time. I finished the night off in front of the TV with a slice of pizza and a veal parm wedge and watched as Pope
Benedict XVI got onto Shepherd One and took off.

It was a great day and sharing it with Marie made it even more special.

Wish my kids could have been there. It was absolutely awesome.


Full coverage of the Pope’s visit to the U.S.A. here