St. Frances de Chantal parish in Throggs Neck made their mark on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to New York, at Yankee Stadium Sunday, April 20, as well as throughout his stay.
Monsignor Leslie Ivers organized a group of volunteers from the parish for the papal visit in the arena.
“We were one of the most active parishes in the whole diocese,” Ivers said. “Many of our parishioners took part in this historic visit.”
In addition to Ivers, St. Frances’s Ruth Murphy interpreted the pope’s message of hope and peace through sign language during the Yankee Stadium mass.
Thanks to her efforts, television hearing impaired viewers from around the country understood Pope Benedict’s message.
“This is the second time she has had the honor of interpreting for a pope,” Ivers explained. “In 1995, she signed for Pope John Paul II at a prayer service in St. Patrick’s cathedral. She signs once a month for our masses at the parish. I was speaking to Ruth after the mass, and she was on cloud nine.”
Also taking a main role was Christy Chiapetti, who sung the Litany of the Saints.
“I almost had tears in my eyes when I heard Christy sing,” Ivers continued. “I was so proud of her.”
Chiapetti also sang happy birthday to the pope in German, when he visited Dunwoodie Seminary.
St. Frances’ organist Richard Marrano also took part in the visit playing for Chiapetti and others at the pope’s visit to both Yankee Stadium and the Dunwoodie Seminary in Yonkers.
Marrano played a very big piece for the pope at Dunwoodie,” Ivers noted. “It was very involved and beautiful.”
St. Frances’ choir members Andrea Kong and Anne Spinelli also sang for the pope as part in the Archdiocesan Choir at the stadium.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Spinelli said. “I was blessed to sing for the pope. Monsignor Ivers deserves a lot of credit as he was instrumental in the Yankee Stadium mass, organizing the distribution of communion.”
Ivers served as the mass’ site coordinator for the more than 57,000 people in attendance.
“The mass at Yankee Stadium was a stunning home run,” Ivers exclaimed. “It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget.”
Ivers added Pope Benedict XVI’s visit was important because it was the first time people in the Untied States got to see the new pope. He noted Benedict’s style is different from his predecessor, stating the he’s lower key and has spent a lifetime as a professor, also working in the Vatican bureaucracy.
Proud by his success, Ivers stated, “We turned the cathedral of baseball into an outdoor cathedral of hope and prayer.”