The Catholic University of America

Dec. 20, 2007

Director of Campus Ministry Receives Papal Honors

Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., presents Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., chaplain and director of the Office of Campus Ministry, with the Benemerenti Medal, conferred by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has conferred papal honors upon Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., chaplain and director of the Office of Campus Ministry of The Catholic University of America, by bestowing upon him the prestigious Benemerenti Medal. The honors were presented by Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, at a special Advent/Christmas Mass held in CUA's Caldwell Hall Chapel on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 20, to initiate the university's Christmas recess.

"In honoring Father Schlageter," the president remarked at the Mass, "Our Holy Father - whose April visit to campus we joyfully await - has also honored The Catholic University of America and the lives of so many students who have been touched by his ministry."

The Benemerenti Medal was first instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and is conferred upon those individuals who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church. The medal has the word benemerenti - "to a well deserving person" - inscribed upon it, surrounded by a crown of oak leaves. The yellow and white ribbon mirrors the papal colors.

Father Bob, as Rev. Schlageter is affectionately known, humbly accepts his honor at the annual Advent and Christmas Mass for faculty and staff.

In presenting the medal, Father O'Connell recounted the campus ministry director's accomplishments: " 'Father Bob,' as he is affectionately known here on campus, arrived with me at the university 10 years ago. In that time, he has virtually transformed the faith life of thousands of students here by making campus ministry a university priority.

"He has mentored over 80 young men and 30 young
women in their discernment process for seminary and religious life. Hundreds of students have also entered lay volunteer programs all over the world through his influence. He has established retreat programs, weekly Eucharistic adoration, regular confessions, ecumenical outreach, service programs and countless other ministries at the university. He has accomplished so much with modesty and humility, touching the lives of everyone at CUA with Franciscan gentleness."

In 2008, Father Schlageter will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Father O'Connell noted that the papal conferral of the Benemerenti Medal is "a fitting way to begin his jubilee year and a beautiful way for all of us to show our appreciation for his dedication to pastoral service in the Church."