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St. Thomas Pastor in New York to Celebrate Mass with Pope

April 14, 2008 — Talking on his cell phone as he headed down a New York street, the Rev. Charles Crespo bubbled with excitement as he talked about the upcoming visit by Pope Benedict XVI.
"I'm so charged up with the possibility of being present in his company," Crespo said.
Crespo, the associate pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral on St. Thomas, said he has in hand his ticket for Saturday's mass with the Pope at St. Patrick's Cathedral. He and 900 other priests, deacons and members of religious orders will be on hand to celebrate the mass with the Pope.
He's also heading to the Pope's youth rally at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., and will celebrate mass with the Pope Sunday at a huge service at Yankee Stadium. Crespo said he'll be among many other priests also celebrating mass with the Pope. He doesn't expect to get to Rome, so this will probably be his only chance to celebrate mass with the Pope.
Crespo won't be the only V.I. resident in New York when the Pope visits. St. Thomas resident Pia Brunt and her husband, Thomas Brunt IV, hope to be among the crowd at Yankee Stadium. They've secured tickets through their church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, but the tickets haven't arrived in the mail yet.
They're flying to New York Thursday anyway, and if the tickets don't make it Brunt said they'll still be part of the huge celebration all over New York City for the Pope.
"I admire him a lot," Brunt said. She saw Pope John Paul II four or five times.
Brunt spoke about the difficulty in getting tickets. She said it would be easier if the Virgin Islands had a bishop, but since it doesn't, her parish priest did the legwork.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent invitations to the bishop of each diocese and two of its priests, Crespo said. He is the only priest going from the Virgin Islands.
The New York-born Crespo took two weeks of vacation to see the Pope, as well as visit his mother, Elsa Crespo, 91, who lives in the city.
"It's a good chance to see the Pope and catch some hugs from Mom," he said.
He has also celebrated mass at his home parish, Nativity Church.
Crespo previously served four years at Our Lady of Mount Carmel on St. John and two years at St. Joseph's Church on St. Croix.
The Pope starts his visit to the United States Tuesday when he arrives in Washington, D.C., at Andrews Air Force Base. According to Catholic New York Online magazine, he'll be greeted by the president and first lady Laura Bush. The Bushes will meet with him Wednesday at the White House.
After events in Washington through Thursday, the Pope will fly to New York Friday to address the United Nations before attending other events. His visit wraps up with the mass at Yankee Stadium.
The Pope departs New York's JFK Airport Sunday night aboard Shepherd One.
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