The Catholic University of America

March 14, 2013

CUA Community Celebrates New Pope's Election

  Caldwell Mass for Pope's Election

Catholic University students pray at the Mass in Caldwell Chapel on March 13 in thanksgiving for the election of Pope Francis.

With a combined sense of solemnity and elation, Catholic University students, staff, and faculty packed Caldwell Chapel March 13 to celebrate the election of Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Both the words and music of the liturgy — including a Gospel reading from John 21:15-17 — focused on the theme of Jesus as a shepherd to his people.

The liturgy complemented the Pope’s first words as he led in prayer those gathered at St. Peter’s Square and by television around the world.

Celebrant Rev. Marek Stybor, O.F.M. Conv., associate chaplain for faith development, noted in his homily how the day was amazing.

CUA students, faculty, and staff attend the Mass for Pope Francis on March 13. At left is Rev. Marek Stybor, O.F.M. Conv., associate chaplain for faith development, who served as celebrant.  


“Today, when I heard the bells working so hard to ensure we didn’t miss the good news, I knew my homily would need to be changed,” he said smiling, as those listening chuckled. Originally intended as a Mass for the cardinal electors, the liturgy turned into one of thanksgiving for Pope Francis.

The conclave in Rome wasn’t just an election, Father Stybor told the congregants, “It was a liturgy, like here, when we encounter the divine.” He noted that some election coverage may have said the conclave was not fast enough, or that the process was too simple.

“No, the Church is teaching us that we need to go with the pace of the Holy Spirit, not to rush,” Father Stybor said. “Jesus does not like to rush.” Keying into the Gospel reading from John, he asked, “How many times does Jesus ask Peter, ‘Do you love me’? Three times, because he does not like to rush with a quick answer. God wants Peter to love him back.”

Father Stybor said that the CUA community received the good news of the new Pope when they saw the white smoke coming from the Sistine Chapel. In addition, “The good news is that God loves us a lot, and he wants us to love him back. How can we respond like Peter? Lord, I do love you.”

“We Catholics have an amazing family, going back to the saints and the martyrs,” Father Stybor continued. “All Catholics are the Church. We need each other, we need to support each other, we need to pray for each other.”

He said he was proud that the University community of students at the Mass thanked God for the gift of Pope Francis, “and that we may be charged to pray for him, as he is asking us. Jesus is our guide, and all the saints, all the believers are our family.”

After Mass, Rylee Magee, a junior theology major, commented on the Pope’s election.

“Immediately, the bells were ringing and it was so jovial, there was so much joy, just in the sound of it. I didn’t have to look at my phone or check my text messages to know there was white smoke,” she said.

“The emotion was true in the Pryz, in the dining hall. Some of the girls in our hallway crammed into one room to watch it together. The emotions were flowing.”

Magee said she studied abroad in Rome last semester. Watching the coverage of the election of a new Pope, she said, “It was hard to contain my envy for the students there this spring.”

Teresa Vyhanek, a senior majoring in Spanish for international service, was equally elated. “I knew we were going to offer the Mass up for the conclave, but now it was for Pope Francis. It is wonderful to join in liturgy with the community to celebrate and offer prayers for our new Pope. We’re starting him off with excellent prayers.”

To see a photo gallery of the election announcement reaction and the thanksgiving Mass, see



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