Pope's parade to allow for maximum exposure

July 17, 1994|By Frank P.L. Somerville | Frank P.L. Somerville,Sun Staff Writer

The Secret Service has approved a parade route for Pope John Paul II's Oct. 23 visit to Baltimore that will allow big crowds along Pratt, Light, Baltimore and Charles streets to see him briefly in his glass-enclosed, bulletproof vehicle.

Sheila Kelly, the Roman Catholic archdiocesan official in charge of planning the midday Sunday parade, said it will be led by the pope in one of the white, custom-made vehicles that church officials and the public have called "Popemobiles" since 1982.

Ms. Kelly predicted that the number of well-wishers and the curious lining the 15-block parade route for a glimpse of the popular, much-traveled pontiff will be many times the capacity crowd of 48,262 gaining admission that morning to the 2 1/2 -hour papal Mass in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Although the exact time has not yet received Vatican approval, Bill Blaul, a Baltimore archdiocese spokesman, said the Mass is scheduled to begin between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., about two hours after the pope's arrival from New York.

The parade will immediately follow the Mass, taking the pope from the ballpark to the Basilica of the Assumption Rectory at 410 N. Charles St.

At the rectory, Mr. Blaul said, the 74-year-old pope will have three hours for lunch and to rest. Then, the plan calls for him to enter the Basilica for a brief, invitation-only meeting and prayer service with "ecumenical and civic leaders."

After that meeting, he will travel in a closed limousine to a prayer service at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5300 N. Charles St., to which about 2,000 Catholic clergy, sisters and lay leaders will be invited.

With the conclusion of the second brief service, Pope John Paul's 10-hour visit to Baltimore -- his first to the nation's oldest archdiocese since his election as pope in 1978 -- will come to an end.

He will fly nonstop from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Rome, where a synod on the family attended by bishops from around the world will be in its final week.

Tickets will be required for the papal Mass at Oriole Park, Mr. Blaul said, but details about how they can be obtained have not been worked out.

Catholics interested in attending are advised to stay in close touch with their parishes while plans are being made.

Ms. Kelly said the public parade will include marching units and possibly floats.

She and Mr. Blaul said the theme of the parade will be "A Family of Faith" and, if there are floats, they are likely to celebrate the religious freedom that is part of the history of Maryland, a colony founded by Catholics in 1634.

The parade will begin after the Mass, Ms. Kelly said, when the "Popemobile" takes Pope John Paul from an exit at the south side of the stadium. He will be driven up Russell Street to Pratt Street, where the papal vehicle will move to the head of the marching units.

The parade will proceed east on Pratt Street to the McKeldin Fountain, the centerpiece of the Inner Harbor's entrance plaza at Light Street, which Ms. Kelly said will be the "focal point" of the parade, an intersection accommodating the largest segment of the crowd.

From there, the pope's vehicle will lead the parade up Light Street to Baltimore Street, west on Baltimore Street to Charles Street, then north on Charles to Saratoga Street.

At Saratoga, Ms. Kelly said, the "Popemobile" will leave the parade to proceed north on Charles Street to the Basilica Rectory.

The marching units, she said, will turn west on Saratoga Street, but it has not been decided how far they will continue before the parade ends.

Officials of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington said the "Popemobile" for the Baltimore parade is not the customized Chevrolet truck built in Mexico and used by the pope in Denver last August, but a Mercedes-Benz version shipped to the United States from Vatican City early in June.

The Secret Service has asked the church not to divulge where it is being stored.

This three-day trip by Pope John Paul, his fourth to the United States as pope, will begin with his arrival at New York's Kennedy Airport the afternoon of Oct. 20. He will address the United Nations the next day.

Other stops in the archdioceses of New York, Brooklyn and Newark will include an outdoor Mass at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., before he flies to Baltimore.

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