Celebrity-Filled Show to Precede Pope Francis’ Mass at Madison Square Garden
To persuade the thousands of Roman Catholics who will attend Pope Francis’ Mass at Madison Square Garden next week to arrive early, the Archdiocese of New York announced on Monday that the Mass would be preceded by a two-hour show with prayer and devotional music performed by stars including Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Hudson.
Tickets to the Mass, on Sept. 25, have been distributed through parishes in New York City and elsewhere in New York State. The archdiocese has instructed pastors that attendees should arrive at the Garden at 2 p.m. because of security needs, even though the Mass will not begin until 6:30 p.m.
In a memorandum sent to pastors this month, the archdiocese said that in the intervening hours attendees would be able to able to give confession as well as buy “papal merchandise, religious and catechetical material.”
The show announced on Monday, called “A Journey in Faith,” will begin at 3 p.m. Among the other performers will be Kelli O’Hara, Martin Sheen, James (D Train) Williams and Norm Lewis. The Broadway Inspirational Voices, a Grammy-nominated gospel choir, and the St. Charles Borromeo Choir will also sing. The performance will include the recitation of the rosary and the sacrament of reconciliation.
The Mass is one of two events during the pope’s visit to New York in which large numbers of people will be able to see him. Also on Sept. 25, Francis’ motorcade will drive through Central Park. Last week, the city distributed 80,000 tickets to the procession through a lottery. (Some of those tickets have since turned up on eBay and Craigslist, where they are listed for hundreds of dollars. The scalping has been condemned by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and by city and state officials.)
The pope starts his three-city visit to the United States in Washington on Sept. 22. He will arrive in New York on the afternoon of Sept. 24 and leave on Sept. 26. While in the city, he will also address the United Nations General Assembly, take part in a multireligious service at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and visit a Catholic school in East Harlem.
After his New York trip, Francis will go to Philadelphia, where he will visit Independence Hall, attend the World Meeting of Families and visit the city’s largest jail.