March 5, 2013
Pediatric Resident Recalls Meeting the Pope
Peter Osgood with Bishop David O'Connell, who was President of Catholic University in 2008.
He was one of 125 Catholic University students who entered a University-sponsored papal essay contest. The topic: “How Catholic Education Has Changed My Life.” The prize: the honor of meeting then Pope Benedict XVI when he visited CUA in April 2008.
In his winning 500-word essay, Peter Osgood wrote, “For many years, St. Michael’s School has been the only Catholic school in my small rural town — and for as long as I can recall my father has called it the best-kept secret of our region.”
A senior from Penn Yann, N.Y., majoring in biology at the time, Osgood described his time at St. Michael’s. “I remember vividly how each school day began in prayer. It was here that we brought to mind those in need, gave thanks for our many gifts, and asked for help in all of our challenges.”
Of his years at CUA, he wrote, “I found an undeniable passion for learning and a faith community that embodied a true spirit of ministry … Such education cannot therefore remain a ‘best kept secret,’ but will inevitably be shown in the words and deeds of each of its students.”
After graduating from Catholic University, Osgood earned a medical degree at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. He is currently in his residency in pediatrics at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
He shares his memories of meeting the pope and his thoughts on the pope’s resignation.
What were your thoughts upon hearing of the pope’s resignation?
My initial feeling was disbelief. But after deeper consideration, I have come to believe that this might be fitting for a pope such as Benedict XVI. He filled his papacy sometimes with a quiet presence. His papacy has been full of bold statements and a yearning to bring the world to a deeper faith, yet this Holy Father has shown us how to sink deeper into the spiritual presence of God with a quiet voice and open ears. His retirement shows us even more the depth of his faith whereby he both acknowledges his humanly limitations and shows us how to offer those up to God with both faith and gratitude.
What do you remember most about your meeting with the pope?
The anticipation (and perhaps anxiety) leading up to those days was very great but filled with joy. I think when the Holy Father walked up the steps to the Pryzbyla Center and greeted the crowd, I must have blended in with everyone else at the door because I initially got passed by. Father O’Connell [now bishop of Trenton, who was then University president] had to direct the Holy Father back outside to see me and, fortunately (since I was a bit nervous by that point) introduced me and explained who I was and that I was asking for him to bless my hands so that I might be a better physician. Those 10 seconds were truly surreal. It seemed as though the crowd was silent at that point (even though they clearly were not) and, for a brief while, the Holy Father was ministering directly to me. That is a moment I will not forget.
Have your thoughts on Catholic education changed at all since you wrote your winning essay in 2008?
They have not. I still feel that education is truly a right that all individuals must have equal access to. Education is an essential part of human collaboration and progress and brings societies together in so many ways. Catholic education, with its tradition of quality schooling and faith-based formation, is truly an asset to Catholics and people of all faiths. Now, many years out from my original Catholic elementary schooling, I am still very grateful for the foundations built, the skills acquired, and the faith explored.
Peter Osgood greets Pope Benedict XVI.