Local Catholic to attend papal event in New York
The odds of winning Lotto are better than a Catholic's odds of meeting the pope. A. J. Boyd, of Bothell, won the jackpot. On Friday the 30-year-old...
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
By the numbersPrevious papal visits to U.S.: Paul VI in 1965; John Paul II in 1979, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1993, 1995, 1999
Catholics in the United States: 67,515,016
Catholics in Seattle Archdiocese: 577,400
Catholics in the world: 1 billion
Source: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The odds of winning Lotto are better than a Catholic's odds of meeting the pope.
A.J. Boyd, of Bothell, won the jackpot.
On Friday the 30-year-old will be in pew six, seat four, at an ecumenical prayer service that will be led by Pope Benedict XVI. The last time Boyd was close to a pope, he was at a crowded Christmas Mass in Rome. This time he will be at the Church of St. Joseph in New York City, one of only 300 guests.
"This will be my first chance to be up-close and personal," said Boyd, a pastoral associate at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Woodinville. "It is quite an honor."
Boyd is among just 50 Catholics in the U.S. — and the only one from the Seattle area — invited to the prayer service and reception. The other 250 guests are national leaders from Protestant and Orthodox churches. The pope is expected to address the assembly about what churches can do to promote Christian unity and world peace.
Boyd was chosen because of his work volunteering with the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers, a national association that promotes ecumenical or interdenominational unity. As the pastoral associate at Blessed Teresa, he oversees social justice, Hispanic and pastoral-care ministries, as well as liturgy.
Gregory Magnoni, spokesman for the Seattle Archdiocese, said Boyd has a rare opportunity.
"It is unlikely to happen to any of us in our lives," he said. "It is a double blessing for the Seattle Archdiocese, to have one of our own see the pope and to be one of only 50 Catholics attending the service."
Another Catholic with area ties known to be attending a papal event is Todd Strange, now a seminary student in Wisconsin, who will be one of 20,000 people at Saturday's youth rally in New York.
"It means a lot to be one of 20,000," Strange said. "That's probably the closest I will come to the pope in my lifetime. It is what the pope represents and that he's the leader of the church that means so much to Catholics."
Friday's prayer service fits with Boyd's personal crusade of building religious unity.
He was in Chicago this week for the National Workshop on Christian Unity, where a Christian church representatives met to discuss ecumenical work.
Boyd, a panelist at the annual conference, has been interested in Christian unity since he was a child growing up in North Bend.
"I knew people went to different churches, but that seemed wrong to me that everyone didn't belong to the same church," Boyd said. "I was seven when I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to contribute to becoming a unified Christian church."
After graduating from Mount Si High School in 1996, he studied theology and philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and did graduate work at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
He's in his sixth year of lay ministry for the archdiocese, including campus ministry in Bellingham and working at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Everett. He has been at Blessed Teresa in Woodinville since 2006.
Boyd hasn't decided whether he wants to become a priest. He says he is still figuring out where he belongs within the Catholic ministry.
But he does understand more than he did at the age of 7, when he wondered why Christians went to different churches. Christians, he said, already have unity though baptism and faith.
"Now we need to at least develop tolerance and peaceful co-existence."
Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or email@example.com
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