Revival efforts blessed by pontiff Cardinal thanks volunteer workers

October 10, 1995|By MICHAEL JAMES AND FRANK P.L. SOMERVILLE | MICHAEL JAMES AND FRANK P.L. SOMERVILLE,SUN STAFF

Pope John Paul II's Baltimore visit Sunday was "a defining moment in the history of the archdiocese," Cardinal William H. Keeler said yesterday.

The pontiff's visit gave specific impetus to two revival efforts already begun in the Baltimore archdiocese, the "Renew" program for the laity and the Emmaus continuing-education program for the clergy, Cardinal Keeler said.

Because the cardinal asked Pope John Paul II for his personal endorsement of the two small-group discussion series to "reaffirm Catholic values," the pontiff drew attention to them in his address Sunday night at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

While the cardinal was thanking volunteers, a small crew at Camden Yards took down the 34-foot high, 2.5-ton steel cross in center field.

The papal altar was disassembled Sunday night and hauled away on trucks, said Sherman Kerbel, director of facilities management for the Maryland Stadium Authority. Bill Blaul, archdiocese spokesman, said the cross will be moved to the headquarters of Catholic Relief Services at 209 W. Fayette St.

The ballpark, which had been transformed from a baseball shrine to Catholic cathedral for the pope's visit, is looking like its former self again.

"Budweiser and Coke are back on the scoreboard," said Mr. nTC Kerbel, referring to the decision to cover the monster-size center-field advertisements with canvass.

Archdiocese officials said the covering was put up to preserve the "solemnity" of the papal Mass.

The ballpark cleanup is also mostly finished, he said, with the job moving along quickly since workers didn't have to worry about the usual stadium leftovers -- beer cups and peanut shells. Neither alcohol nor nuts were sold during the Mass.

Souvenir hawkers saw yesterday that they weren't as blessed with customers as they had been over the weekend.

"I lowered the price for the pope T-shirts to $12," said Henry Benamor, a street vendor who sold more than 50 of the shirts for about $15 over the weekend. His hot dog and T-shirt cart was set up on Pratt Street across from the National Aquarium yesterday, one of the few sidewalk stands still selling pope memorabilia.

"I'm not selling as many today," Mr. Benamor said flatly. But he continued to have faith. "I'm looking forward to Christmas. I think the pope shirt might be a good item then."

Cardinal Keeler had other ideas about the months before Christmas.

More than 22,000 communicants have signed up for the Renew meetings started last year in 125 parishes to offer opportunities "to pray, reflect and share faith experiences with others in small groups," the cardinal said.

More than 80 percent of the priests of the archdiocese are participating in the monthly Emmaus retreats, which the cardinal said provide much-needed time away from their parishes or other regular duties "for prayer and reflection."

The Emmaus program is named for the place where the New Testament says the risen Christ met two of his disciples after the Resurrection.

Sunday night, the pope referred to "forms of Catholic education [that] have become a notable feature of the life of this local church," and addressing the clergy of the archdiocese he praised "your work in adult catechesis, as in the Renew program" and "the Emmaus program and other programs of continuing education for priests."

"I see these programs growing because the pope commended them," Cardinal Keeler said.

The cardinal was interviewed at the temporary papal-visit office in the Inner Harbor's Columbus Center, where he went yesterday to thank a group of volunteers. At a time not yet determined, he said, there will be a Mass and dinner for all the people who gave their time, effort and money to make the pope's visit a success.

Also, the cardinal said, a new plaque in the Basilica of the Assumption will soon mark the first-ever papal visit to Baltimore.

Cardinal Keeler is leaving town today for a brief vacation, during which he said he would have some quiet time for writing.

By mid-afternoon, Department of Public Works crews had removed all of the orange crowd-control barrier mesh. Mailboxes and newspaper receptacles, which had been removed from the papal parade route as a routine precaution, were returned yesterday.

Transit officials said they are hoping that the pope has inspired commuters to use light rail. A record 20,000 people rode the trains to papal activities Sunday, beating the old record of 16,000 riders for the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards, said Anthony Brown, spokesman for the Mass Transit Administration.

In all, between 35,000 and 50,000 people used mass transit, including the MARC trains, buses and the Metro.

The pope's long-lasting effect on Baltimore has even touched the pop music stores.

At the Musical Exchange at 422 N. Charles St., a poster of rock star Iggy Pop is in the window, but Mr. Pop has a papal miter drawn on his head and an "E" pasted to the end of his name -- hence, Iggy Pope.

"We'll be leaving him up for awhile," said shop owner Chris Armbruster, who is still selling papal miracle mugs for $13.95 apiece.

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