Ind. teens win drawing to see papal Mass

GARY He'll spend six days in Washington D.C. and New York. Tickets to the pope's masses and other public events are the hottest tickets in town. Thousands of Roman Catholics tried to get them. But most were disappointed. However, several teens from northwest Indiana were among the lucky few who will be going to see the pope.

For some Catholic teenagers in Indiana, Pope John Paul II was the only pope for most of their lives.

They'll soon be learning more about his successor because four teens from St. Joseph's parish in La Porte will see Pope Benedict In person when he comes to the United States.

"Being able to see him and obtain his blessing is going to be amazing. I can't wait," said Mary Ladewski.

"The odds of getting chosen are very one in a million, so I think there is a reason; something good will come of it," said Greg Bim-Merle.

Ladewski, Bim-Merle, Brianna Erne and Nate Edquist won the lottery for tickets to a youth rally at a New York seminary. They will be among thousands of young adults to see the pope and hear him speak.

"I feel that I will be touched by what he has to say and it will help me grow deeper in my faith," said Edquist.

"I'm really hoping that it will strengthen my call and help me see that better, what God really wants for me in my life," said Erne.

As excited as these teens are to see the pope, they believe he's anxious to see them as well.

"In this world, there are so many youth that are just completely messed up and searching for truth and peace in the wrong places so when he sees a huge group of youth that are concentrated on the Eucharist and on doing God's will, I think it gives him a lot of hope for the future generations," said Erne.

Pope Benedict will speak with President Bush and speak to the United Nations on his trip. But he'll also meet with educators, priests, politicians and people of other faiths during his six-day trip to New York and Washington. Gary Bishop Dale Melzcek says the pope will have a special message for young Catholics.

"It will be one of encouragement, one of hope. He will tell them that they are the church and he will challenge them to live their faith," said Melczek.

A suburban Chicago printing company has donated $50,000 programs for the papal mass at national's park. The JS Paluch Company produced the 36-page booklet at the request of the archdiocese of Washington. The program contains the prayers and music that will be used for the service.

It's not the first time the Franklin Park business worked on a project like this. Paluch created a similar program for Pope John Paul's Mass at Grant Park in 1979.
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