Posted On August, 20 - 2018
Photo Credit: Gayl Kennedy
In my rearview mirror a young deer ran across the road as I parked in the Phoenix Park on Saturday. I wonder how it is coping with all the extra activity as we prepare for the Papal Mass there next Sunday. We are very lucky to have such a resource in the city, which is enjoyed by so many on a daily basis. Walkers, joggers and cyclists went past as I strolled over towards the Papal Cross. Down the road I had noted a cricket match in progress on one side while the anthems were being sung before the start of a polo game on the opposite side. The sound of hammers and the beeps of reversing vehicles moving items into position could be heard as I approached the barriers around the perimeter.
I walked over by the American Embassy to get a sense of the scale of the operation. Designed to accommodate more than six times the capacity of Croke Park, building this site it is a mammoth undertaking.
At a meeting for the volunteer stewards during the week we were told about the way the approach roads would be colour coded and how they have assigned tickets based on where people will be arriving into the city. There is a team assigned to each section to assist pilgrims finding their way in, or to the toilet facilities or first aid, etc. This makes the operation manageable with clear reporting structures and support from central control as needed. Other volunteers will be lining the approach roads to provide guidance and support, starting from dawn. A smile, cheerful encouraging words, sharing advice and information will be helpful.
It will look and sound very different when full on Sunday. Hopefully the weather will be dry but not too hot for people walking and standing for hours before, during and after this very special event. It will be a long day but a very special occasion. It will be an honour for Ireland to host Pope Francis and to hear first-hand the message he has for our Church, at a very different time to that of the previous Papal visit in 1979. There have been other changes since then affecting the planning for this event including security considerations and expectations regarding facilities to be provided. Entertainment will be provided after the Mass to encourage pilgrims to stay in the park for a while and not overload the exits.
Just as the organisers have put a lot of planning into the event, pilgrims also need to make their own plans and ensure they avail of the public transport options to get as close as possible to their colour-coded entrance to the Park. More information can be found here while information on the nearest bus and tram stops are clearly marked on this map https://www.transportforireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TFI-Papal-Visit-Transport-Phoenix-Park-Maps-FINAL.pdf