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 CNS Story:

YANKEE-COMMENTS Apr-20-2008 (960 words) xxxn

Yankees' owner says pope's message of brotherhood 'rings loud, clear'

By Beth Griffin
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The visit by Pope Benedict XVI "is wonderful for New York, our nation and indeed the world," said George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees.

"His message of brotherhood rings loud and clear. We welcome him to Yankee Stadium with respect, reverence and enthusiasm," he said in a statement.

The Yankees' home -- known by many as "the house that Ruth built," a reference to famous Yankee Babe Ruth -- was the site of an April 20 Mass celebrated by the pope. It was the final Mass of his six-day U.S. visit.

Among the more than 57,000 Catholic faithful in attendance were Linda Robichaud and her husband, David, from Herman, Maine, who were there with their three children, Frances, 9, Hannah, 7, and David Henry, 3. They belong to St. John's Parish in Bangor, Maine.

Linda Robichaud said they got five of the 100 Mass tickets available for the Diocese of Portland, which covers the entire state of Maine. Her husband closed the automotive shop he owns for three days so they could make the trip.

The family waited for several hours on Fifth Avenue April 19 to see Pope Benedict pass by after he celebrated Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral for clergy and religious.

"It was awesome to be so close to him," Linda Robichaud told Catholic News Service, adding that the family came "to strengthen the faith of the children. We'll never get this opportunity again as a family."

Discalced Carmelite Sister Mary Therese and Sister Cecilia came together from the cloister of St. Therese in Clinton Township, near Detroit.

For them as cloistered sisters, it was a rare and special outing.

"It is so beautiful to a part of our church; to be part of the witness of the unity and holiness of the church. It's so exciting to be here to honor our Holy Father, our Papa," said Sister Mary Therese, who has been a member of the order for 35 years.

She and Sister Cecilia, a 27-year member, visited St. Patrick's Cathedral, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre.

Outside of Yankee Stadium, in the hours leading up to the Mass, there was lots of noise and activity as Massgoers streamed by.

Seven-year-old Stephen Tracy, from the Boston Archdiocese, told CNS: "I really think this is cool to see the pope." He and his 11-year-old brother Mark were with their mom, Donis, and their three other siblings.

The family was outside St. Patrick's Cathedral earlier in the day to watch the pope go by in his popemobile.

"It was an awesome experience to see him go by," said Carol Tracy, 15. "It was great to hear the pope speaking in a way that kids can understand," added Mark.

As Lt. Tim Ginley, 44, a 14-year veteran of the New York Fire Department, was heading in to the stadium for Mass, he said the last time he saw a pope was in 1979, when Pope John Paul II came to New York. Ginley said his father was a firefighter and he went with him to see the pontiff.

He said he would have liked to have been at the pope's emotional visit earlier in the day to ground zero, site of the World Trade Center tower brought down by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But only family members of those who lost their lives in the tragedy could be there.

He said he felt that all of Pope Benedict's addresses during his U.S. trip were speeches about "healing" and he expected his words at the Mass to be the same.

Father Joseph Mary Deane, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal stationed in Texas, had been asked to help distribute Communion in the section where he had his seat for the Mass.

"This is a wonderful experience. It's a great joy to greet the Holy Father. It's an incredible experience," he said. "The crowds are moved to tears of love and joy at seeing him."

"I've experienced no negativity at all from Catholics or non-Catholics" during the pope's visit, he added.

"I'm really happy to be here," said Matthew Bruno, 10, from Tampa, Fla. He was going into the stadium with his parents, Christine and Tony, and his 5-year-old brother, Jonathan. "I've never seen a pope before. I'm going to tell all of my friends when I get back home," Matthew said.

Talking to a CNS reporter he ran into on the subway train heading to Yankee Stadium, Alberto Alejandre, 23, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of Denver, said he was amazed by the crowds in New York City.

"People burst into tears of joy at just seeing the pope," he remarked, saying it was "like an encounter with Christ for modern-day people."

The day before the Yankee Stadium Mass the pope spoke to a rally of seminarians and young people at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers.

The crowd included three students from McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, N.Y., at the eastern end of Long Island, in the Rockville Centre Diocese.

"It was definitely worth the trip. It was so inspiring to see all the Catholic youth come together to celebrate the pope and his visit to New York," said ninth-grader Caroline Ray

Jocelyn Snyder, who is in 10th grade, said: "The pope was so nice and so genuine, like the way he would smile."

Added Elizabeth Rossi, also in 10th grade: "I expected him to be more serious, but he was absolutely adorable."

- - -

Contributing to this story was Angelo Stagnaro.


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