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Lucky central New Yorkers will attend mass with Pope Francis in New York City

Tom Magnarelli
Debra Sullivan with a portrait of Pope Francis at the office of the St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church in Utica.

Pope Francis will celebrate mass at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Friday. Some lucky central New Yorkers won tickets and will be among those in attendance.

A lottery through the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse gave away 84 pairs of tickets to see the pope, to subscribers of the Catholic Sun newspaper. At $25 for a year subscription, Debra Sullivan, who is Catholic and an office administrator at the St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church in Utica, said she had to enter.

“I just had this gut, premonition feeling that I was going to win,” Sullivan said.

When they said they were going to announce the winners, Sullivan checked her email and nothing. She checked again the next day and still nothing.

“I just have this feeling I was going to win and spam popped in my head," Sullivan said. "So I went to my spam and there it was! You have won two pairs of tickets to celebrate mass with Pope Francis in New York City.”

Sullivan said she is encouraged by the message of this pope in particular.

“His welcoming hospitality, childlike love, he’s just about love and that’s what Christ was like,” Sullivan said.

To entice people to show up early to Pope Francis’ mass, the event will open with music from Jennifer Hudson, Harry Connick Jr. and Sullivan’s personal favorite, Gloria Estefan.

But it wasn’t easy for Sullivan to get a hotel room because leaders from around the world will also be in New York City to celebrate the United Nation's 70th anniversary. The pope will also be speaking to the U.N. about global sustainability.