Lotteries to Select Winners of Tickets to Pope's Masses

Times Religion Writer

Lotteries at Southland Catholic parishes will determine who gets most of the coveted tickets for two Masses to be celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles in September, Roman Catholic Church officials said Tuesday.

Roughly 80% of the approximately 150,000 seats for the Mass at the Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 15 and at Dodger Stadium the next night will be decided by the luck of the draw, said Father Terrance Fleming, papal visit coordinator for the host Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The timing of the lotteries is "left up to the individual parishes," said Father Arthur Holquin, director of liturgy for the Diocese of Orange. The list of those selected for tickets is scheduled to be sent to officials overseeing the Pope's visit by early June.

Holquin, who has been active in planning details of the visit in California, said that after the lotteries are held, parish priests will have a number of "discretionary" tickets to ensure an "equitable" representation of all segments of the congregation.

For security reasons, all applicants for the free tickets will submit their names, addresses and phone numbers to be placed on computerized lists, officials said.

Each ticket issued will also have that information printed on it, according to one source, Father Philip A. Behan, vicar general of the Diocese of San Bernardino.

Although printing names and addresses on the tickets may discourage recipients from selling their tickets, Behan said the reason for assembling detailed computerized lists of ticket-holders and printing names on the tickets is to aid the security measures of the U.S. Secret Service.

Fleming, who did not release many details about available tickets, said "no comment" when asked about Behan's statement.

Barbara Riggs, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, also declined comment.

As is the case in other cities on the Pope's U.S. pastoral visit Sept. 10-19, seating at the major stadium gatherings is limited to Catholics or specially invited guests.

Can View Motorcade

The general public and Catholics who do not get tickets will have their only other chance to see the Pope in Los Angeles along a 10-mile motorcade after his arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on the morning of Sept. 15.

For the Coliseum event, diocesan officials said, 14,000 tickets will be available to the Diocese of Orange, 12,000 to the Diocese of San Diego and 11,000 to the Diocese of San Bernardino.

Fleming said half of the three-county Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which includes more than 2.6 million Catholics, will be assigned to the Dodger Stadium Mass and the other half to the Coliseum event.

"Our transportation experts advised us that it would be better that way," Fleming said. Archdiocesan parishes in San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley and other parts of Los Angeles have been given application forms for tickets to the Dodger Stadium event. Parishes in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and in the western and southern parts of Los Angeles will receive applications for the Coliseum event.

The number of registered parishioners in each church was to have determined the allotments.

Schedules Lottery

St. Robert Bellarmine parish in Burbank received forms for 200 tickets. Msgr. Patrick Reilly, the pastor, notified parishioners Sunday that the lottery will take place for them at a yet-to-be-announced Sunday Mass.

A total of 343 ticket application forms went to St. Margaret Mary parish in Chino, one of the largest parishes in the San Bernardino diocese, which includes San Bernardino and Riverside counties, whereas one of the smallest there, a parish in Highland, received only six.

The Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas and two counties in the Diocese of Fresno--Kern and Inyo--have received allocations of 750 and 500 tickets respectively to the Pope's appearance at Dodger Stadium, church officials said.

Fleming, a professor at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, did not respond directly when asked if he has heard complaints about the allocations.

Avoids Listening

"I don't listen. If I listened to all complaints, they would have to take me over to the state hospital in Camarillo," he said.

Fleming said all priests and permanent deacons have been requested to come to the two papal Masses to help serve Communion. He declined to say, however, how many seats have been set aside for them.

Final numbers on seats available at the two Masses will depend on how many ticket-holders will be permitted on the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium fields, he said.

Ticket-holders from each diocese and each parish will be sitting together, Fleming said. The primary purpose was to reduce confusion and congestion, and "only secondarily was it done that way to deter scalping," he said.

Fleming estimated that tickets would not be given to the holders until a couple of weeks before the Pope arrives in Los Angeles.

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