The Catholic University of America

April 16, 2008

CUA Students Are Cheering About Benedict XVI

Three hundred CUA students joined in a candlelight rosary event, praying at outdoor sites around campus to prepare themselves spiritually for the pope's visit.

Hundreds of students at The Catholic University of America are volunteering to serve thousands of their classmates and others who will gather to welcome Pope Benedict XVI when he visits the CUA campus on Thursday, April 17.

On Tuesday evening, April 15, they will make banners and posters proclaiming "CUA Welcomes the Pope!" "The Pope Is Hope!" and "CUA Loves Our Papa!" And earlier this week they practiced cheers like the percussive "C-U-A Loves-the-Pope," complete with Village People "YMCA"-style arm movements to form the letters of the university.

CUA student volunteers will also be directing pedestrian traffic, checking IDs and tickets, seating invited guests and answering questions on the day of the pope's visit.

Pope Benedict XVI's visit "is the topic of all conversations" on campus, says Samantha Giusti, a senior from Sicklerville, N.J., majoring in social work.

The campus is "electric with anticipation," she says, so much so that a popular one-liner among the students - "Hey, have you heard the pope is coming?" - elicits guffaws from classmates who have been thinking about that visit for three months.

On the evening of Monday, April 14, a crowd of 300 students participated in a candlelight rosary event, praying at five outdoor sites around campus to prepare themselves spiritually for the papal visit.

More than 9,000 people will be on campus to welcome the pope on Thursday, April 17, when he arrives at 5 p.m. As part of that number, thousands of CUA students will be situated on the lawn between the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center and CUA's Columbus School of Law to "Rock the Pope" - as a banner puts it - as he enters the university center to give an address on Catholic education to Catholic university presidents and diocesan education leaders from around the country.

CUA students will spend the night of April 16 praying and singing in an all-night vigil in CUA's St. Vincent's Chapel. The vigil begins with an 8 p.m. service of prayers for the pope and continues throughout the night in the form of eucharistic adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, punctuated by hourly public readings of brief excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's books and papal encyclicals.

Some students will not only get up in the middle of the night for the vigil but will also spend much of April 16 and 17 taking advantage of multiple opportunities to see Pope Benedict. Giusti, senior Anthony Buatti and sophomore Michael Bzozowski are planning to visit the South Lawn of the White House the morning of April 16 as part of an estimated crowd of 12,000 who will hear the pope and President George W. Bush make comments. Afterward they'll return to campus to see the pope enter the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception around 5 p.m. and exit a few hours later.

After attending at least part of the all-night vigil, they'll join 45,000 other worshippers at Washington's new major-league baseball stadium for Benedict XVI's two-hour celebration of the Mass and then head back to campus to greet the pontiff when he visits Catholic University for his afternoon address to Church education leaders.

"The students want to be a part of history. They recognize this is a historic event for our Church, for our country and for our campus, and they're excited to be able to witness it firsthand," says Jessica DePrizio, a 2002 CUA graduate who is now associate campus minister for liturgy and worship.

Also, the pope's visit and the massive public response to it affirm and remind CUA students that they are part of something much bigger, a global Church, says Bzozowski, a politics major from Moorestown, N.J. "The fact that they have to hold the Mass in a baseball stadium is in itself amazing," he says.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in CUA's Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.