By TODD CRANDALL, Special To The Bulletin | Published April 24, 2008
On the plane to New Jersey we were filled with anticipation about being a part of this unprecedented event—Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to the United States. We watched the EWTN coverage of his arrival and visit to Washington, D.C., and we agreed with the messages he sent to the American church and political leaders. What would he say in New York? Little did we know, not only would a renewal of faith happen to us, but we made friends from all over the country. We met people from New Jersey, New York and Texas. We even had fellow parishioners hop on our subway at a stop. …Once we reached our stop, it was clear we wouldn’t stick together anymore. Within the crowd were teens chanting “Benedicto” and getting the crowd involved. It sounded like we were headed into a World Cup soccer match instead of the papal Mass. Everyone in the group quickly separated without saying goodbye, wondering “which three-block-long line is for my gate?” After a spiritual and patriotic concert it was time. Viva il Papa! We could feel his presence, but we weren’t prepared for the emotions that overcame both of us when he drove onto the field. The Mass was a beautiful ceremony. We are so proud to be Catholic! His message was simple—peace, love and hope. Hearing him speak inspired us to spread his word and try to live more faithfully to it everyday. When the pope left the stadium we found ourselves not wanting to leave, trying to extend our wonderful experience. Finally, we left and made it to the subway. To our surprise, we met up with our new friends from Houston we had made on the way to the Mass. We spoke briefly and described our experiences. It seems that no matter where you sat, or where you came from, the experience was the same: a wonderful message of hope, love and peace from our spiritual father, Pope Benedict XVI!
Todd Crandall, 38, and his wife, Amy, traveled to New York to pray with the pope. They worship at St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, where Todd is a member of the Knights of Columbus and Amy helps with the religious education program. He works as a sales representative for several furniture companies and Amy is a kindergarten teacher for Cobb County Schools.