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Long Wait Doesn’t Guarantee Glimpse of Pope

October 7, 1995

YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) _ Getting a glimpse of Pope John Paul II at St. Joseph’s Seminary meant enduring less-than-heavenly waiting lines _ but even then, a ticket didn’t guarantee a view of the pontiff.

Jackie Genova arrived with her husband and brother-in-law with plenty of time to see the pope chauffeured across the seminary’s manicured grounds in his custom-made popemobile.

But when the pope began his brief ride across the campus, the Westchester County office worker was caught in the crowd on the wrong end of a fenced-in field. The popemobile _ with the pontiff waving from an open window _ had lumbered off by the time she could work her way to a better spot.

``I could cry,″ Genova said, looking dejectedly at a yellow-and-white papal flag she had bought as a souvenir. But she quickly added, ``It’s worth the wait anyway. I’m never going to get this chance again.″

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For many of the crowd of 20,000 at the seminary, the best view of the pope they would get was on a giant television screen set up at the end of a freshly mowed field. A prayer service held inside the seminary, where seating was limited, was broadcast over the screen as families sat on blankets and watched.

Two old high school friends from Yonkers, Manuel Fernandes Jr. and Joe Siciliano, didn’t seem to mind.

``He’s been the pope for most of my life and it’s kind of special,″ said Fernandes, 27. ``Everybody’s together. It shows there’s hope for the future.″

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The pope’s visit brought sunshine to Yonkers, but it was also good for the business climate.

Frank Carono of New Haven, Conn., was doing a brisk business outside the seminary grounds selling lapel buttons with the pope’s visage and commemorative papal flags.

He had brought 100 of the $2 buttons, and had only a few left within minutes of setting up shop next to a line of ticket holders.

``I guess I picked the right spot,″ he said.

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The tote boards were turned off, the $2 windows closed and the starting gate mothballed for the pope’s Mass at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens earlier Friday.

``With all the misery at the track, people losing money, this time everybody goes home a winner,″ said Anthony Maiello, 30, of Staten Island.

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Lila Estevez, 35, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, cried as the Mass at Aqueduct ended, saying she was moved to tears as she compared ``the love and peace of this moment″ to the way the world really is.

``It’s very hard to be an immigrant at the moment, particularly for the poor people,″ she said.

Nereida Ortega, 38, a social worker from Queens, felt the pope’s message had made a difference in the way people were treating each other.

``Everybody has been so nice, even waiting for the bathroom,″ she said. ``It should be like this all the time in New York.″

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