By Antoinette Cea
The visit of Pope Francis to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has stirred so much excitement among students at Catholic University that in order to attend the Mass students must enter in a lottery system to receive tickets.
The Mass, celebrating the Canonization of Junipero Serra, will be the third time an active Pope has celebrated Mass at the Catholic University.
“In addition to the prayer we’re asking people to pray now and between the Pope’s coming, we also want our students to be able to pray in Spanish because the Mass for the most part, ninety five percent of it, will be said in Spanish,” said University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, Father Jude DeAngelo. “So, we are having Father Eric, who speaks Spanish, give two Masses in Spanish on campus so that our students can be familiarized with the prayers. We want our students to be able to pray with the Pope.”
Many preparations from various departments and offices have been made for the arrival of Pope Francis. Campus Ministry is hosting a variety of events called “Walk with Francis: Joy of the Gospel” that encourages students to be involved in preparation for Pope Francis’ arrival to campus. Students are called to pray, serve, and learn more about Pope Francis and his message.
“Intense preparations are underway for the historic visit of our Holy Father to campus and the Basilica,” said University Spokesman and Vice President for Public Affairs, Victor Nakas. “University staff and administrators have already logged in many hours planning for the Mass. Hundreds of volunteers have been recruited and we anticipate hundreds of journalists to cover the Mass.”
According to Julie Mullen, the Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students, there are three lotteries on campus for tickets to the Mass: one lottery for graduate and undergraduate, one for faculty and staff, and one for alumni.
“If it just have been the archdiocese and ourselves, and the Catholic Conference of Bishops, all of our students would have been able to attend the Mass,” said Jude. “Once you start bringing in Homeland Security, they have to decide. Where we say, ‘Yeah, we could have thirty thousand people,’ they’re saying, ‘No you can’t.’” We have to give people so much space, and for the road. I hope our students understand that it was not our decision, or the decision of the Cardinals.”
Jude’s role during the Canonization Mass of Junipero Serra celebrated by Pope Francis will be to be with the students and Deacons distributing communion to the attendees.
“I think Pope Francis has a tone, and a certain way of speaking that is very different from his predecessors,” said Jude. “His concentration on trying to bring people to understand their interconnectedness, and what he is about is encountering Christ. Now, John Paul used those words, Pope Benedict used those words, but we’re talking about a man that when was Cardinal Arch Bishop lived in a very small apartment and focused on the poor. Not that the other Popes didn’t, but that’s what he’s coming out from. He’s bringing that perspective to the Vatican, and I think people are saying that this Pope is bringing us there. It’s not just about experiencing Christ in the Mass and the Sacraments, but also encountering Christ in the poor. I think a lot of people look at Pope Francis and say he has credibility because of where he is coming from.”
Many students claim they understand the University’s need for the lottery system.
“The Basilica is where the Mass is being held, and the Basilica isn’t technically part of our campus so I don’t see why we should have more access than anyone else to that,” said senior Studio Art major, Ann Lipscombe. “It seems like the most fair way to do it.”
Many students have confidence that the University will do all it can to ensure anyone who wants to attend the Mass will attend.
“I think it’s fair, and makes sense,” said senior Politics major, Jim Lewis. “I think that there is a pretty good chance that everyone is going to get in from what I’ve read, so I hope that everyone who wants to get in does, and if not, that’s unfortunate.”
As September 23rd approaches, those at Catholic University will surely see excitement and preparation for Pope Francis’ visit unfolding.