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Sunday 20 January 2019

Behind the scenes of the Papal Mass: No loaves and fishes... but there'll be 25,000 sliced pans

Master of Ceremonies, Fr Damian McNeice on the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Master of Ceremonies, Fr Damian McNeice on the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

THE Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park will be a far cry from the gospel story of the loaves and fishes.

Organisers of Pope Francis’s two-day trip to Ireland expect 25,000 sliced pans to be consumed next Sunday in the park.

They are also budgeting for 31,250 litres of milk, based on the probability that half of the 500,000 attendees will have a cup of tea or coffee.

A massive area of the park has now been cordoned off as workers build an altar around the Papal Cross where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1979.

Work takes place on the construction of the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Work takes place on the construction of the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin

Over 100km of fencing is in the process of being erected along with 60km of temporary park and trackway. Workers are also bringing in 2,500 toilets.

Independent.ie got a look behind the scenes today where Fr Damien McNiece, who is master of ceremonies for the Mass, revealed that the Pope will spent 20 minutes moving through the crowds in a Popemobile.

“He’ll be doing at least 20 minutes of a drive through all the crowd before Mass happens. It’s happening about 2.30pm and Mass starts around 3pm,” he said.

Fr McNiece described himself as “part of a team of people masterminding the whole thing”.

Pens and walkways in front of the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park.
Photo: Tony Gavin 14/8/2018
Pens and walkways in front of the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin 14/8/2018

There will 3,000 choir singers taking part in a show that will start at 8am and continue until 8pm.

Around 2,000 priests will celebrate Mass with the Pope, and there will be 14 “sub chapels” around the grounds to facilitate the distribution of holy communion.

“Before and after there are a whole series of events and entertainers and people doing inspirational stuff to get everybody into the zone,” Fr McNiece said.

Gardaí have again urged pilgrims to travel to the event using public transport in a bid to prevent traffic chaos in the city.

Work takes place on the construction of the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Work takes place on the construction of the altar at the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Tony Gavin

Dublin Bus will have a fleet of 1,000 buses operating, including 360 that will service dedicated transport hubs to bring people as close to the park as possible.

Irish Rail will provide capacity for 250,000 journeys, while the Luas expects to carry 73,700 passengers. Bus Eireann will bring another 30,000 people.

There will be a secure area around Dublin, starting at the M50 from 6am to 11pm on the Sunday.

Meanwhile the organisers of the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) which is the main purpose for Pope Francis’s trip to Ireland are appealing to Massgoers to “leave no trace”.

They want people to be conscious of their environment footprint by travelling lightly and going plastic free.

Jane Mellett, project co-ordinator for ‘Care for our Common Home’ says that Pope Francis “has issued an invitation to all of us to enter into a conversation about what is happening to our beautiful world, and the threats our planet faces as a result of environmental destruction”.

“We all have a part to play in protecting our common home. If everyone joining the World Meeting of Families takes responsibility to be an eco-pilgrim on their journey we can minimise our impact throughout the event, and most importantly at the Papal Mass in Phoenix Park,” Ms Mellett said.

OTHERS FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Total attendance for this Visit of Pope Francis to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families is expected to be 750,000.
  • Previous WMOF locations: Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); Philadelphia (2015).
  • 20,000 directional signs and 2,400 information signs are set to be used.
  • 8,000 posts and 35km of rope is going to be used to organize the attendees into their areas at Knock and Phoenix Park events.
  • 45 large screens being used for the visit - lay them on the ground you will get 3 acres.
  • 35km of fibre cable to cover the CCTV network
  • 48 lollipop signs to be used, as well as 50km of single colour bunting outside the Park to direct people along 7 colour coded routes to the Park.
  • 5,000 traffic cones being used for outside the Phoenix Park alone. More will be used inside.
  • There are over 1,200 journalists accredited for this visit from 31 countries coming from this event.

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