The Catholic University of America

March 19, 2008

128 CUA Students Write for a Chance to Meet the Pope

CUA Sophomore Walt O'Donnell submits his essay on March 18 for a chance to meet Pope Benedict XVI.
The Office of Public Affairs was bustling March 18 as students filed in throughout the day to meet the deadline for turning in their essays for a chance to meet Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Catholic University on April 17.

By the time the last essay was submitted, a total of 128 undergraduate, graduate and law students had turned in 500-word essays on "How Catholic education has changed my life." The winner of the contest will be announced on or before April 9.

The essays will be delivered today to a panel of six judges. Each judge will choose his or her favorite three essays, ranking them in order of preference, and passing them on to Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, who will choose the winner and the runner-up.

The winner of the essay contest will be personally introduced to Pope Benedict XVI by Father O'Connell when the Holy Father visits campus on April 17. Both the winner and the runner-up will attend the pontiff's address and a post-address reception.

The judges include: John J. Convey, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Professor of Education; Leonard DeFiore, Brother Patrick Ellis Professor of Education; Rev. Brad Heckathorne, O.F.M. Conv., assistant chaplain for graduate students and staff; Marie Raber, assistant dean and associate professor, National Catholic School of Social Service; Leslie Tentler, history professor and Knights of Columbus Scholar; and Shavaun Wall, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies.

The essay contest was announced Tuesday, Feb. 26. The essay's theme of Catholic education is meant to dovetail with Pope Benedict XVI's visit to CUA on April 17, when he will deliver an address on Catholic education to more than 400 university presidents and diocesan education representatives from around the United States. The question was designed broad in scope to give students the latitude to reflect and respond based on their own unique experiences.