The Catholic University of America

Feb. 11, 2007

CUA President Meets with Lithuanian President

In the photos above and below, Father O'Connell is shown with President Valdas Adamkus and his wife, Alma, at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
From left: Father O'Connell, President Adamkus, Victor Nakas.
Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., president of The Catholic University of America, met with Valdas Adamkus, president of Lithuania, and his wife, Alma Adamkiene, at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Feb. 12. Father O'Connell accompanied the pair and Lithuania's foreign minister, Petras Vaitiekunas, on a 20-minute tour of the center.

"I was delighted to welcome back Lithuanian President and Mrs. Adamkus on Sunday afternoon during their working visit to Washington, D.C., said Father O'Connell. "His was the first honorary degree I conferred after arriving at CUA in 1998. I have great admiration for him and the strong leadership he has demonstrated throughout his presidency in Lithuania. President Adamkus spoke to me of the challenges he faced building up his country in the post-Soviet era and he relayed some of his concerns for the future"

During his conversation with Father O'Connell, President Adamkus also recalled his 1998 trip to CUA, remarking that he had "very pleasant memories of visiting the campus, which is such an open and beautiful place for your students."

Father O'Connell said the visit to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center seemed to hold a special meaning for Adamkus. "While we were touring the center, President Adamkus paused in front of a portrait of the late pope and spoke of his devotion to him. 'I met with him five times - more than any other head of state,' he told me. It was an honor to give President and Mrs. Adamkus a blessing before their departure."

Adamkus will meet President Bush today. His working visit includes lunch with Vice President Cheney and meetings with Congressional leaders.

The meeting between Father O'Connell and President Adamkus was facilitated by Victor Nakas, associate vice president for public affairs, whose acquaintance with the Lithuanian president goes back several decades when both men were actively involved in Lithuania's drive to reestablish its independence after 50 years of Soviet rule.

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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,