Fresno Catholics Once in a Lifetime Experience

April 10, 2008 8:11:06 PM PDT
Thousands of Catholics will pour into stadiums in Washington D.C., and New York next week to see Pope Benedict the sixteenth.But only a few from the Valley will even have an opportunity to get a bird's eye view of the Pope.

It's Pope Benedict the sixteenth's first trip to the United States since his election to lead Roman Catholics worldwide.

He will hold two outdoor public masses while in the United States one at the new Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium, the other at Yankee Stadium. The two stadiums together hold about 100-thousand people. There are more than 61-million Catholics nationwide, so a Fresno couple feels honored to be invited.

Jim Scroggin of Fresno is a devout catholic. He's been involved with the Knights of Columbus a Catholic Philanthropic organization for thirty years. He's been following the news about the pope's impending visit to the east coast but had given up any idea of getting a seat at mass until he got a call last month. The home office of the Knights of Columbus wanted Jim and his wife Lisa to attend the Papal Mass in New York.

Jim Scroggin "He said Jim, I've got a proposition for ya the only thing is you've got 30 minutes to make up your mind."

It took Jim all of 30 seconds to make up his mind.

"To me it's just an extreme honor to attend mass with our Holy Father this has got to be something, this is really special."

This will be Lisa Scroggin's second Papal visit.

Twenty one years ago she boarded a bus with her 11 year old son to see Pope John Paul the second in Monterey. It was September 1987 Pope John Paul the second cruised through the crowd of thousands at Laguna Seca Raceway.

Lisa Scroggin: "It was such an agonizing wait and then to see him drive by in his pope mobile and all the people that were there, it was overwhelming!"

Bishop John Steinbock and only one other priest from the diocese of Fresno will participate in the Papal visit in Washington. It will be the bishop's second meeting with Benedict the sixteenth. His first was in Rome four years ago when Benedict the sixteenth was a Cardinal Bishop, Steinbock says while the current pope may not be as charismatic as John Paul the second, he is pastoral and all about making peace.

Bishop Steinbock, Diocese of Fresno: "He took the name Benedict the sixteenth, he himself said that it was in memory of Benedict the fifteenth who was the pope during the First World War and worked to avoid the First World War and worked to end the First World War."

According to Bishop Steinbock there are now one million Catholics in the Fresno diocese, However only seven tickets were allotted to lay people to attend mass with the pope next week.


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