Each Parish Gets Share : Church to Hold Lottery for Papal Mass Tickets

Times Religion Writer

Lotteries at San Diego and other 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 Memorial Coliseum Sept. 15 and at Dodger Stadium the next night will be decided by luck of the draw, said Father Terrance Fleming, papal visit coordinator for the host Los Angeles Archdiocese.

For security reasons, all applicants for the free tickets must 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 San Bernardino Diocese.


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

Fleming, who did not release many details about available tickets, said “no comment” to Behan’s statement.

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

Share Determined by Number of Registered Catholics


Ticket applications arrived last week at all 98 parishes in San Diego and Imperial counties, and the 12,000 allotted tickets will arrive sometime in August, according to the communications office of the San Diego Diocese.

Each parish has been allotted a block of tickets based on the number of registered Catholics in that parish. There are 381,000 registered Catholics in the San Diego Diocese.

An undetermined number of tickets have been given to the dioceses in Tijuana and Calexico. Fleming said that as much as 80% of the tickets will be distributed by parish lotteries after pastors have made their own selections to assure that a representative cross-section by age, sex, race, vocation and parish leadership will be present.

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

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 Orange Diocese, 12,000 to the San Diego Diocese and 11,000 to the San Bernardino Diocese.

Split Geographically

Fleming said that half of the three-county Los Angeles Archdiocese, 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 parts of the City of Los Angeles have been given application forms for tickets to the Dodger Stadium service. Parishes in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and in the western and southern parts of Los Angeles will receive applications for the Coliseum.

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. One of the smallest there, a parish in Highland, received only 6.

The Reno-Las Vegas Diocese and two counties in the Fresno Diocese--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.

‘I Don’t Listen’

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

Fleming said that all priests and permanent deacons have been asked 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 will not be issued until a couple of weeks before the Pope arrives in Los Angeles.