By Tim Jimenez
HAVERTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Tickets for the major papal events on the Ben Franklin Parkway were given to parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This morning, a line formed, bright and early, outside of a Delaware County parish that was handing out its passes.READ MORE: Flyers Fans Return To Packed Wells Fargo Center For First Time In More Than 500 Days
It started out as one person camping outside of St. Denis Parish in Havertown.
“I’ve slept out for so many concerts in my life I figured why not for the Pope?” said Brigette Cuffia of Havertown.
She went to the church at 10 p.m. Wednesday with a few items to get her through a crisp night outdoors.
“Just slept on the ground. It was fine. I just had two blankets and my husband felt bad for me and brought me two sleeping bags,” she explained.
As night turned to day, more parishioners joined Brigette. It was a line consisting of the faithful who tried to have some fun.
“A bunch of friends are up here and we’ve been having a blast,” said Kevin McNulty, who lives across the street. His wife Julie even brought a couple of pots of coffee for those in line. “It’s like a tailgate,” Kevin said. “Some people have Chip Kelly. We have Pope Francis!”
“He’s a wonderful Pope. He’s reaching out to all of us and we answer his call.” said Lynn Givey.READ MORE: Vehicle Hits Multiple Pedestrians Outside Of High School Football Game In Wilmington
This was their chance at snagging tickets for the Festival of Families and the Papal Mass. The Archdiocese gave each one of its parishes a certain number of passes to distribute in a way they saw fit. St. Denis already set aside 96 tickets for parishioners who signed up for a bus trip to the Papal Mass. Church staff then came up with a plan to give the rest of the tickets out to registered parishioners on a first come, first served basis at 9 a.m. on this date. Each eligible person in line could only get tickets for those registered in their household.
“There was no perfect time to hand them out. It’s very challenging,” said Father Kevin Gallagher, St. Denis’ pastor. The exact number of available tickets for each of the Parkway events was not given but the amount was described as “limited.”
A little bit after 9 a.m., Father Gallagher opened the parish office doors. Brigette, more than 11 hours after she first arrived, was the very first to have her hands on the golden tickets.
“Oh it’s totally worth it!” she said. “I’m super excited. God bless the Pope!”
Others soon followed. Overall it took about 15 minutes for the papal mass tickets to go. The Festival of Families tickets lasted a little bit longer.
“It really does make me teary,” said Pat Landau-Smith who got three tickets to the mass for herself, husband and daughter. “It’s a real thing now. When I was my daughter’s age I saw John Paul on the Parkway.”
Father Gallagher, who already met with Pope Francis on a trip to The Vatican this past spring, now believes the tide is turning and many who were hesitant to go to Philadelphia next weekend are now changing their minds.
“Once, people were afraid,” he said. “Now it’s, ‘How do we get tickets?’”MORE NEWS: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Surprises Football Team At Alma Mater Freedom High School In Bethlehem With Video