Excitement over Pope Benedict XVI's visit to America is growing from Washington D.C. to Lubbock. Wednesday morning thousands of people lined the streets of Washington D.C. to cheer as the Pope passed by on his way to meet with President Bush. He was welcomed to the White House with an elaborate ceremony and celebration for his 81'st birthday. Wednesday is the beginning of his six-day trip, which will include New York City.
Wednesday night last minute preparations are underway for some 40 youth and parents from St. Josephs Catholic Church in Lubbock. Friday morning the group will board a plane headed to New York City to spend the weekend with the Pope. It's a trip that's been in the works for several months with the original destination of Australia.
"Father Heriberto was planning to get them to go to Australia for worldwide youth (day) but that didn't pan out," Yolanda Gutierrez, Director of Religious Education at St. Josephs Church said.
Therefore, Italy was the next choice.
"He decided well maybe we can go to Rome that didn't help." Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez says when Pope Benedict announced his visit to the states, travel plans changed again.
"We were scrambling to get the tickets. They kept telling us maybe next week, maybe next week," Gutierrez added.
Gutierrez says travel arraignments were made several months ago, without tickets in hand.
"When we got them it was a sigh of relief," Gutierrez said. "This is the ticket to get into the seminary where he will speak to the youth and the seminarians," Gutierrez added.
On Saturday, Gutierrez says she and the group will attend a youth rally with the Pope, on his third anniversary as head of the Roman Catholic Church. Then on Sunday Gutierrez said, "We have a ticket to be at Yankee Stadium to be at the mass."
"Get there really early because you're going to have to go through security to get inside. And that probably anybody in the first 15 to 30 rows is handpicked," Dave Freriks said. Freriks is a retired Secret Service agent who worked security details for Pope John Paul the II. Freriks says since the Pope is a head of state, security will be tight.
"He gets the full package of protection, armored cars, secured residents and all that takes place," Freriks said.
However, no matter the security, Gutierrez says it will be an experience of a lifetime.
"Once in a life time opportunity for a lot of us we will not be able to do this again," Gutierrez said.
We also learned the Pope Mobile you've seen on TV is not brought in from Rome. Instead, we have our own here in the US, for just such occasions.
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