Thousands of tickets for the Pope’s open-air mass at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium were all booked about 15 minutes after they were made available to the public for free.
The July 26 mass with Pope Francis is part of his six-day Canadian tour, which also includes stops in Quebec City and Iqaluit.
Neil McCarthy, a spokesperson for the papal visit, says organizers were hopeful the first block of 16,000 tickets would be booked immediately because the impact of the event cannot be underestimated.
A total of 65,000 people can attend the mass at the football stadium.
McCarthy says if people haven’t been able to book a seat, they can do so on two other days later this month, when the remaining blocks of free tickets will be made available.
Organizers divided the booking process for the mass over three days, because they say it is easier to manage and want to prioritize some Indigenous people who want to attend.
“We’ve got seating allocations for Indigenous participation, whether it’s residential school survivors, elders, knowledge keepers or those who are supporting them,” McCarthy said Wednesday.
“Today was a very, very positive start to the day. People really want to be with him.”
The Pope is to arrive in Edmonton on July 24. The next day, he is to meet survivors and visit the site of the former Ermineskin Residential School in Maskwacis, about 80 km south of Edmonton.
He is scheduled to arrive in Quebec City on July 27 and stop in Iqaluit on July 29.
The Pope’s visit comes after he apologized in April to Indigenous delegates at the Vatican for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential schools and the intergenerational trauma it caused.