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It was a competition to become part of the Papal Choir as members from churches across the tri-state area vyed for a spot on the altar when Pope Francis visits the U.S. this week.

At Saint Gregory the Great in Hamilton, N.J., four members were hoping and praying they could make the cut.

The four traveled to Philadelphia and auditioned in front of judges, much like a music competition on television.
Susan and John Shaddy are married and had two very different audition experiences.

“He asked me to sing a hymn,” John Shaddy said. ” Then he gave me a newly composed him for the upcoming Papal Mass. He let me know right there that I would be admitted to the choir.”

However, Susan did not find out on the spot, not even the next day. She had to wait for weeks.

“I walked out of there and said it would be a miracle if I get in. It was so hard,” she recalled.

Two other choir members, David Maliakel and Emma Rhine, also had to patiently wait for the email to come.

“The first two pages sounded like a rejection letter,” Maliakel said.

After many prayers and lit candles, they were all accepted. The group now practices every week with 247 other choir members preparing to sing more than 20 pieces in multiple languages for Pope Francis.

“It’s all shapes, sizes, colors, ages. It’s all God’s people,” Susan Shaddy said.

Maliakel is no stranger to Papal Choirs. His brother once sang for Pope Benedict XVI and he now continues on for the family blessed with good genes.

” He had his chance, and now I’m singing closer to home,” he said.

The Mass will be held Saturday in Philadelphia.