"I have a sign in my garden that says, 'One is nearer God in a garden than anyplace else on earth,' but...Madison Square Garden?

"I feel humble and happy," added avid gardener Judy Malone, to represent the Albany Diocese, Our Lady of Victory parish in Troy and her Tuesday-night prayer group by attending the Mass with Pope Francis Sept. 25 at Madison Square Garden.

Mrs. Malone was randomly chosen from among three women who'd submitted their names to Rev. Randall Patterson, pastor of OLV, for a raffle to receive the parish's sole ticket to the papal Mass. Father Patterson told The Evangelist that he was surprised several parishioners were eager to go, since no transportation or lodging is included for adults. (Fifty youths from the Diocese will travel together on a bus with chaperons; see previous story at www.evangelist.org.)

But "I hop trains a lot," said Mrs. Malone, whose son and daughter live on Long Island. A grandmother and great-grandmother, she already has her trip planned out: "I'm going into Penn Station and finding my way to Madison Square Garden; they start lining up [to go inside] at 2:00.

"I've got my train ticket. The man who sold [it to] me was so pleased to hear my story! He said, 'My brother is going [to see the pope] in Philadelphia, and I hope to join him.'"

The head of OLV's visitation ministry gave Mrs. Malone some rosaries to take with her. If the pope blesses religious items during the Mass, as is a papal custom, she'll bring them back home to be distributed to homebound parishioners.

When and where to arrive is about all Mrs. Malone knows about the Mass. Though she loves to travel, she said, she won't be following Pope Francis' words and his other stops on his U.S. visit: "I never read up on my travels first. I want to see it and experience it. I'll read all the 'brochures' later!"

She is a fan of the Holy Father, though: "Who wouldn't be, of this man who is so kind and loving and generous in this world?"

When people have remarked that she's not likely to get anywhere near Francis, Mrs. Malone tells them, "I don't have to see him or be near him. I just want to celebrate Mass with him. I just want to be where he is."

Her family is excited for her to make the trip. Mrs. Malone is confident that she'll navigate the massive number of pilgrims in New York City just fine: "I'll have Christ with me, so I'm going to be alright."