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Tickets were hard to come by

Paul Knudsen, son of Nancy Knudsen of Park Rapids, and Monsignor Roger Grundhaus of the Crookston Diocese joined more than 35,000 at the Pope Benedict XVI Papal Mass Thursday at Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC.

"When you give, your gift is returned ten-fold," Knudsen said. "I feel blessed and fortunate in life and in that spirit extended an offer of hospitality to anyone visiting for the Papal visit."

Grundhaus contacted Knudsen April 11 asking if the offer was still open.

Knudsen welcomed Grundhaus to stay, but said he would be unable to attend the Papal Mass as the waiting list was more than 100,000. Grundhaus informed Knudsen he had extra tickets and asked not only if he wanted to go, but if he had any military friends who were interested in attending.

Grunhaus's entourage encountered a minor glitch when they had to disembark from the metro due to mechanical issues. They exited the L'efant metro stop and made a 15-minute walk to the Nationals Stadium.

"It was good exercise," Monsignor Grundhaus said. "The Pope would have been proud that 'Wir haben eine Volksmarch gemachen" (We took a people's walk), Knudsen said.

Washington Metro Authority worked quickly to solve the problem. By the time the Papal Mass concluded two hours later, additional cars had been added to the green and yellow line, which effectively alleviated the problem.

"This was a lifetime experience," all three military officers told the Park Rapids Enterprise. "We're very grateful and appreciative of the generous invitations extended by Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner and Monsignor Grundhaus, Crookston Diocese."

"It was a class A operation all the way around. Panache," Knudsen said. "Sort of seems like God's endorsement. The Pope's birthday was just two days ago on Tuesday. The weather has been absolutely sunny and beautiful for the Pontiff's visit.

"We can't say thank you enough to the Bishop and Monsignor Grundhaus," Knudsen added. "It was a lifetime experience which I know I'll never forget.