Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mark Ackerman: "Blessed with a Cardinal Assignment"

"Say this about Ackermann: The guy has juice", proclaims Shannon Mullen of the Asbury Park Press, in an extensive profile of the man Cardinal Egan selected to coordinate Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Archdiocese of New York:

"In my upbringing," says Ackermann, whose sister, Marialice, is a nun in a Catholic religious order, "when a cardinal archbishop asks you to do something, you do it."

And, he adds, you pray that you'll rise to the challenge.

A daunting task indeed, given the Pope's New York intinerary. Security of course, is an issue:
"In the old days, you could just give a priest 50 tickets and say, 'Give them out to whomever you want,' " Ackermann says. "Now, you need names, addresses and dates of birth."

Each of the 90,000 tickets being distributed for the various papal events will have a unique bar code, and each ticket holder will need to show a photo ID and pass through an airport-like security check. The tickets are nontransferable.

Ackermann needs no reminding of the reasons for the extra security measures. On Sept. 11, 2001, when the two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, he was in his car on the Garden State Parkway on his way into work.

That morning, and for weeks afterward, he was thrust into the media spotlight as the chief spokesman for St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan ...

Judging by the testimony of his neighbors, the Pope is in good hands:
His fellow altar server as these Masses is Raymond C. Teatum, 68, of New York City. Like Teatum, Ackermann is a member of the Order of Malta and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, two prominent lay Catholic organizations. Teatum says Egan chose the right man to coordinate the papal visit.

"Not everybody could handle it," Teatum says of the high-pressure role. "He has the capacity and the patience to do that job, and believe me, it takes patience" ...

His sister, Sister Marialice Ackermann, 59, principal at St. Rose of Lima School, a largely Hispanic, inner-city elementary school in New Haven, Conn., is confident the pope's visit is in good hands.

"He's had a lot of experience from Sept. 11," she says. "He's been in New York so many years, he knows the police officers, the chief of police. He knows the ins and outs of New York."