March 13, 2013
Students Share Excitement About New Pope
Students celebrate the announcement of Pope Francis at the Pryzbyla Center.
At approximately 7:05 p.m. in Rome, white smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. And by 2:08 p.m. in Washington, D.C., the bells were tolling at The Catholic University of America.
James Glasgo, a sophomore math major from Olney, Md., was on his way to class. “I heard the bells and it didn’t immediately register that it meant a new Pope. But I looked at my phone and had about 20 text messages.” Instead of going to class, Glasgo headed to the central meeting place on campus, the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.
The “Pryz” was already a hub of activity on March 13. There was the summer sessions fair on the second floor. But the first-floor food court was quickly taking on a party atmosphere. A live feed of Vatican City was projected from a computer onto a big screen. Students around the room were monitoring the news on tablets, computers, and cell phones.
“Here come the Swiss Guards,” shouted a student, and for just a second the crowd grew quiet.
“This is awesome. I have so much joy in my heart and there is so much joy in this room,” said Glasgo.
“I am so excited to be at Catholic University at this time,” said Andrew Demetrius, a sophomore theology major from Richmond, Va. “This will only happen a few times in my life.”
Freshman Adriana Carlucci was in a politics class when she heard the bells. “Our professor said ‘I can’t compete with the Pope.’ and he dismissed us.” So she headed to the Pryz. “I’m so excited to be part of this,” said the politics major from Richmond, Va.
Christopher Anderson, a second-year master’s in systematic theology student, had just stepped out of Shahan Hall, where he had finished his comps when he heard the bells. “I immediately looked at my phone and saw the news.
“It has been so exciting to have the Church in the spotlight in this way. In this year of the New Evangelization, this is our opportunity to show the world who we are — to show all the good things that come from our faith,” said Anderson.
“I had been praying the new Pope would be announced today,” said Sister Maria Frassati Jakupcak, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
“I have my English comps tomorrow and I wanted to be able to enjoy this with our students without worrying about that,” said Sister Maria, who is working on her master’s degree in English while serving as a religious in residence at Regan Hall, a residence hall for freshmen women.
At 2:54 p.m. a close-up of the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica appeared on the big screen and the crowd in the Pryzbyla Center again grew quiet for just a second. The camera panned to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square and the anticipation evident on their faces matched what could be seen on the faces of the students gathered in the food court.
Again at 3:01 p.m. a close-up of the balcony came on screen and this time the curtain moved. This time the silence lasted. One student shouted, “I’m so excited,” and then apologetically said, “I just can’t help myself.”
Sister Maria balanced on tip toes and clutched her Rosary beads.
When Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, was announced, there was cheering, high fives, and for a few students, quiet prayer.
“It was beautiful to hear our new Pope pray the Our Father and Hail Mary in his native language,” said Sister Maria. “I don’t know much about him but I look forward to getting to know him. I trust that the College of Cardinals guided by the Holy Spirit have chosen the Pope our Church needs now.”
“I think it’s great that we have a Pope from Latin America. The name he has chosen says it all — Francis. He will be a Pope of great humility,” said Anderson.
“There could be no better place to be for this moment than on the campus of Catholic University with other students who share my faith. I’m at a loss for words to explain what it means to be part of this beautiful moment,” said freshman theology major Anne Ahlering from San Diego.