The Catholic University of America

April 16, 2008

Seminarians To Welcome Pope Benedict XVI to CUA's Campus

Seminarians participate in the candlelight rosary on Monday.

A group of seminarians is gaining an experience some priests wait a lifetime for: an audience with the pope.

More than 70 students enrolled in Theological College, the national seminary of The Catholic University of America, will be among a select group who will greet Pope Benedict XVI when he enters the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center to give his address on Catholic education on Thursday, April 17. They will be joined by six formation faculty members of Theological College.

In cooperation with the School of Theology and Religious Studies and the School of Philosophy at Catholic University, seminarians receive their formation as Catholic priests at nearby Theological College, the seminary of Catholic University.

The seminarians also will have other opportunities to see the pope. A select group will serve vespers with Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, April 16, when he prays with bishops of the United States at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Two Theological College seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington, Ismael Ayala and Paul Nomsule, will also be participating in the Mass at the Nationals Park. Nomsule will serve as a candle bearer and Ayala will serve as the thurifer, the server who assists with the incensing during the Mass. About 20 Theological College seminarians will also travel to New York on April 19 as special guests of Dunwoody Seminary, where Pope Benedict XVI will speak.

For third-year philosophy major Robert Ryan of St. Louis, Mo., the excitement is building. Ryan will be among the seminarians inside the Pryzbyla Center. He calls it "energizing for our vocation" that the visit is taking place on Ryan's own campus.

"He's a visible sign of unity of the church, but also a model priest in whose footsteps we can follow," says Ryan. "And we don't even have to go to Rome to see him," he adds. "That's pretty cool."

In addition to securing his place in the Pryzbyla Center, Rev. Deacon Michael Spurr will distribute Communion during the Mass at Nationals Park on the morning of April 17. Spurr, who will graduate in May and be ordained for the Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina in June, finds this visit the capstone of his five years at CUA.

"Just to be able to get that close to the vicar of Christ on earth is amazing," Spurr says. "What a wonderful way to go out."

MEDIA: To arrange for interviews, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in CUA's Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.