The Papal Mass
The Historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States, April 15-20 2008, culminated with a Solemn High Mass celebrated at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Preceding this Mass was “The Concert of Hope,” attended by over 60,000 people and viewed by millions around the world.
Jose Feliciano was among the artists invited to participate in this extraordinary event. Read more about it, as well as enjoy Jose’s historic performance here, courtesy of EWTN and Fox5.
Papal Visit, 2008
Jose Feliciano is a Roman Catholic, practicing in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut. His Bishop, William Lori, invited Jose, his wife, Susan, and three children to the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium on April 20th.
At that time, it was made known to the “Powers That Be” that because of this esteemed invitation, negotiations to extend a tour of Australia were curtailed and Jose would be returning home early, on April 18th, and would absolutely be at home in Connecticut and available, should there be a place for him to participate in the Solemn Liturgy or its surrounding event.
Subsequent to this, a phone called was received from the Bishop’s Office, indicating that the producer of the event, Mr. Stig Edgren, had been advised and enthusiastically wanted Jose to participate in the pre-Mass concert. Of course, Jose saw it as an immense honor and graciously accepted the invitation to perform prior to the Holy Father’s Mass on that day.
Three songs have been chosen in accord with the Holy Father’s theme of “Hope” which has been attached to his visit and they are: “Lean On Me,” by Bill Withers; “Que Sera,” an internationally known hit song for Feliciano and the Lee Greenwood classic, “God Bless The USA.”
Papal Mass Video
The Concert Of Hope at Yankee Stadium
Somebody in the media was heard saying, “As soon as Jose Feliciano started to sing the sun began to shine!” We don’t remember exactly when the sun came out, but we did notice that the clouds were beginning to part as we waited in the Yankee dugout for Jose’s cue to enter the field. With great anticipation and a healthy dose of humility, Feliciano walked the ramp to his place near the center of the extravagant stage, bedecked in Papal gold and white. He took his guitar and before over 60,000 people in the stadium and millions upon millions of people worldwide at home, Jose Feliciano began to strum the familiar chords to his opening song, “Lean On Me.”
“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow. Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend; I’ll help you carry on. for it won’t be long that I’m gonna need somebody to lean on…”
More than the sunshine that dominated the clouds and the sparkle that illuminated Jose’s demeanor was the obvious and immediate connection he made with the thousands singing along with him. Jose’s second number, his international hit, “Che Sara,” was sung both in Italian and Spanish, making his concert, though only minutes in length, a tri-lingual gift to the Holy Father, to the people of New York and to the world.
Finally, his set culminated with Lee Greenwood’s patriotic masterpiece, “God Bless The U.S.A.” backed by the Papal Orchestra and directed by Jose’s esteemed conductor, Mr. Jimmie Haskell, who flew in from Los Angeles to assistant Jose during the event.
The Concert of Hope was the celebration prior to Pope Benedict XVI’s Solemn Papal Mass culminating his visit to the United States.
Letter from Attendees
This is Lenny Caro, CEO of The Bronx Chamber Of Commerce; I would like to start off by saying congratulations on your spectacular performance for Pope Benedict XVI yesterday at the Yankee Stadium. I wanted to come over and say hello to you and your lovely wife and daughter, unfortunately I was sitting with the Mayor and other elected officials so it was very hard to get to you…but again, my congratulations.
I hope all is well with you and Jose… I am still hearing how Jose ‘parted the clouds’ ! – I love it – it was an absolute joyous day…
All best regards – and big hello to Jose –
Your husband was incredible. The songs he sang were so very meaningful and added to the beauty of the day. Clearly, the crowd loved him and I was thrilled to know that I had a small part in helping to arrange his being there. It was very special.
I am also so very delighted that we had the chance to meet here at the Catholic Center! I told my daughter who you were when you were escorting Jose to the stage. Another thrill!
Patricia R. Hansen
Project Manager, Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation
John Reilly – Rogers & Cowan
I had been feeling down lately and now I feel so much more optimistic. The Power of Prayer shared with others.
I would love to hear your thoughts about your experience if you have time to write.
Hoping you and your family are well.
– Janet H.
How wonderful it was to read about the sun breaking through on Jose’s performance…not a co-incidence…God smiling on him and everyone. I saw you accompanying Jose in the video. I think your presence too brought the sunshine! I also saw some of the wonderful Sisters of Blessed Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the stands – they feel like sisters of mine – I know some of the Sisters in Australia and to know one of them is to love them all!
The images of the other order of Sisters in grey, singing with Jose was very lovely as so too were the later images, of the policeman singing the words to God Bless the USA with Jose. What a great event!
– Joanne S.
I am still transported by the wonder of it all…
– Margaret A.