Not long after it was announced that Pope John Paul II would be visiting Los Angeles as part of a September 1987 papal visit, Peter O’Malley was approached by officials of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles about the possibility of celebrating a Papal Mass at Dodger Stadium.The desired date: Sept. 16 — the day after the Dodgers, which (like Dodger Stadium) the O’Malley family owned, were to play a night game against Houston, and the day before they were to play a doubleheader against Cincinnati. “I said, ‘Well, it’s not impossible, but it’s about as close to impossible as you can get,’” says Peter O’Malley, whose family has a long tradition of involvement with the Catholic Church (before and since the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958), but who was understandably concerned about the logistical challenge associated with a Papal Mass. “I said, ‘It’s gonna be tough.’”A quarter century later, however, both Peter O’Malley and his sister, Terry O’Malley Seidler, smile as they speak with warmth and pride about the Papal Mass at Dodger Stadium, attended by 63,000 (still the largest single-event crowd in stadium history) and a highlight of the Holy Father’s 10-day trip to the U.S. and Canada.“We were so proud and happy that it came together and worked so well,” says Terry, who with her brother shared ownership of the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium until their sale in 1998. “And I think our parents [the late Walter and Kay O’Malley, both of whom died in 1979] would have been very happy.”“It took precision, planning and teamwork,” adds Peter. “But it came off very well.”Especially given the challenging logistics at a venue which, by 1987, had hosted concerts by the Beatles, Elton John and the Eagles, plus the 1984 Olympic baseball tournament and multiple World Series games. On the night of Sept. 15, as the Papal Mass at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum several miles south was concluding, two large cranes in back of center field at Dodger Stadium stood ready to assist in setting up the large platform and cross for the Sept. 16 Mass (and pre-Mass musical entertainment), as did a host of crew members.And the O’Malleys prayed that the game would not go into extra innings.“We told people it should end by 10, and it ended at 10:03 [the Dodgers won, 3-2],” says Peter. “And then everyone got to work. Bob Smith, who was our director of stadium operations, stayed on the job 60 straight hours.”By early afternoon of the 16th, the stage was set, as was everything else — chairs on the field, fencing around the warning track where the popemobile would travel, portable restrooms in the bullpens. (There some who wisecracked, given the Dodgers’ largely mediocre performance in 1987, that it was the first time all season that anyone found relief in the Dodgers’ bullpen.)Dodger Stadium was staffed to the max and then some, says Peter, just as it would be for a baseball game, although “I don’t think we sold beer that day,” he smiles. And when the sound system was turned on, allowing the packed stadium to hear the 1,250-voice choir, loud cheers went up which further lifted the spirits of an already enthusiastic crowd. As twilight fell, Pope John Paul II entered the stadium in the popemobile and circled the interior, amidst thunderous cheering, joyful waving and non-stop camera-clicking.As might be expected, Peter and Terry had been bombarded with requests for tickets (the large majority of which went to parishes) and, in a few cases, requests to meet the pope. “One fellow owner kept at me, saying, ‘You gotta introduce me to the pope, you’ve just got to,’” Peter laughs. “I said, ‘Look, I don’t even know that I’m going to meet the pope. It’s really out of my hands.’ And it really was.”Peter did, however, receive Communion from the pope, which was a last-minute surprise to him. “I was in my family’s box, and someone official came in and said, ‘Come with me.’ I followed him, and the next thing I know, I’m in line to receive from the Holy Father. And that was my only direct encounter with Pope John Paul.”The O’Malley siblings still marvel at how well everything went that evening. “The distribution of Communion was amazing — like clockwork,” says Peter, a longtime parishioner at St. Brendan Church in Hancock Park. “The archdiocese had that very well organized.”That Dodger Stadium could host a Papal Mass “was such an honor,” adds Terry, a parishioner and religious education teacher at Sts. Felicitas and Perpetua Church in San Marino. “I think of our parents, how this stadium was their dream realized, how this event would have meant so much to them. What a blessing it was for all of us.”Including, it would seem, the stadium’s primary tenants — the Dodgers, who went on to win 12 of their last 17 games that season, and in 1988 captured their sixth World Series title.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0914/omalley/{/gallery}