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More than 90 members of the John Carroll Society volunteered as ushers for the April 17 Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Nationals Park in Washington. The group, largely made up of lawyers and judges, helped greet and seat the estimated 46,000 attendees. “It was a magnificent experience and one that I’ll never forget,” says Carroll Society member and Magistrate Judge John Facciola of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The John Carroll Society is a Roman Catholic charitable organization, mainly composed of Washington-area professionals in the legal, medical, and business community. The group was asked by Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl to help out with the event. The group wore red jackets, similar in color to the pope’s vestments, to stand out for crowd members in search of direction. The group did such a good job that one churchgoer tried to hand one of the ushers, a doctor, a dollar tip for his services. He respectfully declined. The group also helped 300 priests and deacons deliver communion to the crowd, a task they were able to complete, Facciola says, in only 20 minutes. “The entire day seemed to go without a hitch,” he says, explaining that the group arrived at 4 a.m. and didn’t leave until after noon. Before taking on the task, Facciola said members had to get security clearance from the Secret Service. The Carroll Society is used to high-profile Masses and security concerns, as it holds the annual Red Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral the Sunday before the opening of the Supreme Court’s term in October. But the papal Mass, Facciola says, was in a league of its own. “It was just spellbinding,” he says.
W.J. Hennigan can be contacted at whennigan@alm.com.

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