The Catholic University of America

April 28, 2015

Cardinal Wuerl Invites CUA Students to Participate in Pope Francis’s Visit

  Cardinal Donald Wuerl, center, speaks with CUA architecture students on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Design Contest Announced for Papal Furniture – Second Time CUA will Design for a Pope

The leaders of the Archdiocese of Washington, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America met today with students from CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning to announce a contest for the design of the altar, chair, and ambo to be used by Pope Francis during the canonization Mass of Blessed Junípero Serra on Sept. 23, 2015.

“How exciting it is to be here with you on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception looking out over the campus of The Catholic University of America, where in five months, in this very place, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, will celebrate the canonization of Junípero Serra,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and chancellor of CUA. “What makes this even more exciting is that we have all you young people with us. I can’t think of a better way to engage the spirit of the young than through this design competition.”

The contest marks the second time that CUA students will design furnishings for a papal Mass. In 2008, students designed the altar, ambo, and chair used by Pope Benedict XVI when he celebrated Mass at Nationals Park, and the chair he used when he visited the University.

Commenting on how often the Basilica and CUA collaborate on events (including University Masses and Commencement), Monsignor Walter Rossi said that he is “delighted” that the architecture and planning school is involved in the preparation for the papal visit. After the visit, he said he hopes to be able to continue using the altar and the other furnishings in the Basilica.

Bishop Barry Knestout, auxiliary bishop of Washington, also talked briefly with the students about the contest. Bishop Knestout, who has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Maryland, oversaw the 2008 contest in which students designed the furniture used by Pope Benedict XVI.

Rev. Ugo Mmebue, a graduate student in architecture from Nigeria, commented that the students are “so privileged to be [at CUA] at this point in time. We’re planning to come up with something that will represent the good work of the School of Architecture and Planning. We will make the furniture something worth seeing. We thank you for giving us this opportunity.”

“We’re proud to note that when Pope Francis visits Washington we’ll welcome our third pope to campus,” said University President John Garvey. “Participating in the design contest is indeed a special opportunity for our students. I'm sure it will be an experience of a lifetime for them. I can imagine how exciting it might be to design something that will be here 200 years from now.”




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