The Catholic University of America

March 1, 2008

CUA Students Begin Spring Break Praying with Pope Benedict XVI

CUA students greet Pope Benedict XVI with a banner reading "46 Days and Counting. See You Soon!"

On Saturday, March 1, the first day of spring break, about 100 Catholic University students gave up the opportunity to sleep past noon and instead took part in the Sixth European Day for University Students with Pope Benedict XVI presiding via satellite from Vatican City.

Peter Walz, a freshman history major, postponed his spring break plans until Sunday in order to take part in the rosary service with the Holy Father. "It was a beautiful ceremony and it was nice to have so many people in the chapel," he said. "It was a new experience to be connected so closely, but so far away, from the pope."

Along with CUA, university students prayed in Toledo, Spain; La Aparecida, Brazil; Loja, Ecuador; Naples, Italy; Havana, Cuba; Mexico City, Mexico; Avignon, France; Bucharest, Romania; and Minsk, Belarus.

Pope Benedict received greetings from each of the locations. CUA students greeted him with a banner proclaiming "46 Days and Counting. See You Soon!" referring to the pope's upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. in April.

Students pray the rosary in Caldwell Chapel with Pope Benedict XVI.
In return, the pope greeted each university and said to CUA, "Dear university students of Washington, D.C., I send warm greetings to you! With the help of God, I will be in your city in April. With your assistance, may America remain faithful to its Christian roots and to its high ideals of freedom in truth and justice." (To view a video clip of Pope Benedict greeting CUA students, click here.)

Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and chancellor of Catholic University, presided at CUA. Very Reverend David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, assisted him. Most Rev. Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States was also present.

CUA students introduced the fifth mystery of the rosary and led the recitation of the Hail Marys, and Archbishop Wuerl offered a prayer at the end of the mystery. At the conclusion of the service, all participants will receive the pope's Apostolic Blessing.

Archbishop Wuerl of Washington (center) hands out copies of Spe et Salvi, the pope's encyclical on hope. Father O'Connell, university president (left), and Archbishop Sambi, nuncio, greet students.
In addition to the students who prayed in CUA's chapel, Father O'Connell was able to facilitate a request by some Catholic University students visiting Rome to pray with the pontiff in Paul VI Hall.

Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) filmed the event at CUA to transmit via satellite to the other locations. CUA participants viewed the pope and participants in the other countries on a large television set up in Caldwell Chapel for this event. EWTN also broadcast the event to its viewers.

This event occurred approximately six weeks before Pope Benedict XVI makes his first visit to the United States since being named pope. He will visit The Catholic University of America on April 17 to deliver an address on Catholic education to presidents of Catholic universities and diocesan heads of education.