Working Hard To Keep Pope Visit Simple

Busy New Yorkers attending Pope Francis’ Sept. 25 Mass can accept Holy Communion without a bunch of salacious sins weighing on their consciences. 

“We’ll have confessional areas set up throughout ” for those who want to absolve their sins before accepting the Eucharist, said Dan Parise of Diversified Production Services, who is producing the Mass and pre-Mass.

Hundreds of priests will be on hand to hear confessions, lead recitals of the Rosary and offer communion to the 20,000 faithful.

“We’ve rehearsed it twice already with one more to go,” he said. “We researched major cathedrals around the world so that we could deliver communion to 20,000 people in a 20-minute window.”

The Mass comes on the fourth and last day of the Pope’s U.S. visit, with the Secret Service tasked with protecting the Papacy.

Despite the intense planning and prep, Parise said the Vatican has gone out of its way to streamline the service and give it an austere feel.

“Our direction from day one from the archdiocese and His Holiness has been to keep things as simple as we can,” he said. “The ceremony will be gorgeous with an incredible altar and beautiful pieces made just for his visit, but we kept things very simple. We’ve done 20-25 versions of designs and concepts of this before we got the final approval. And in all of those revisions, we weren’t adding any new elements; we were reducing the production. We didn’t want it to feel overwhelming.”

To encourage attendees to arrive early, Parise is organizing a pre-Mass with musical director Rob Mathes that includes performances by Jennifer HudsonGloria Estefan

“We’ll have confessional areas set up throughout . and the Saint Charles Borromeo Choir.

Martin Sheen will host the pre-Mass, which will be interspersed with recitals of the rosary and religious readings.

“We’re planning on closing with one big number where everyone is up on stage,” said Parise, a former Live Nation VP who has put on a number of big-time NYC benefits including the Concert for New York City shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and the Emmy-nominated 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief.

“This is one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “I’m ecstatic about being asked to produce this Mass and pre-Mass.”