Papal event organizers distributing more tickets

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 Donna Farrell of the World Meeting of Families says  tickets will be available to the general public, in addition to Catholic parishes, for events featuring Pope Francis Sept. 26 and 27. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Donna Farrell of the World Meeting of Families says tickets will be available to the general public, in addition to Catholic parishes, for events featuring Pope Francis Sept. 26 and 27. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Now that we know there are tickets necessary for the prime spots to view the papal Mass in Philadelphia … how will they be distributed?  

That’s a question with a still evolving answer.

Developments Thursday did not do much to clear up confusion surrounding who will get the coveted tickets — or how they will get them — to be closest to the Pope Francis when he speaks at Independence Hall Sept. 26 and celebrates Mass Sept. 27 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

After announcing Wednesday that tickets will be required to get within five blocks of the altar on the Parkway, Donna Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families, said Thursday tickets will be available to the general public — in addition to those earmarked for the 219 parishes throughout the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia, surrounding dioceses and social service ministries.

“Ten-thousand tickets to the Festival of Families on Saturday, Sept. 26, will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Wednesday, Sept. 9,” Farrell said. “And another 10,000 tickets to the papal Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis on Wednesday, Sept. 9, as well.”

Responding to the clamor over ticketing and that tickets for prime viewing locations were already spoken for, Farrell said it’s not whether pilgrims are close to the stage or altar for the papal events that matters — it’s being part of the experience that’s most important.

“A huge part of this is the experience is the pilgrims joining hands and singing from Toledo, Ohio, or Toledo, Spain,” she said.

The total of 30,000 tickets will be available online, but on Thursday Farrell wasn’t prepared to offer any more details on the process of attaining them.

She did say that Pope Francis will loop around the festival grounds on the Parkway on Saturday and Sunday, but would not confirm that he’ll be riding in the popemobile — although there have been reports the vehicle is already in the U.S.

Allentown considers lottery for its allotment of tickets

The Diocese of Allentown has gotten word that it will receive 200 tickets for the Saturday events on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 200 for the papal Mass on Sunday, said spokesman Matt Kerr.  With busloads of people headed to Philadelphia, however, many will not get tickets for the prime viewing area.

“I think that people will go to be part of this, whether they can get up close or not,” Kerr said Thursday. “I don’t know that anyone had any expectations of being particularly close.”

At this point, Allentown officials have not decided how the tickets will be distributed.

“That remains to be seen, we are discussing several different ways, including some sort of a lottery,” he said.

For now, Kerr said, the Allentown diocese continues to plan for what could be a once in a lifetime event.

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