The Catholic University of America

March 20, 2013

CUA Students Attend Thanksgiving Mass for Pope

  CUA students at Pope's Thanksgiving Mass
  Attending the Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Francis' inauguration to the Petrine Ministry on March 19 are CUA students, left to right, Casey Lilley, a junior politics major; Alyssa Badolato, a junior history and Italian major; Lauren Scharmer, a junior social work major; and Rylee Magee, a junior theology major.

As Catholics around the world celebrated the inauguration of Pope Francis on March 19, Catholic University students, faculty, and staff also gave thanks for his election at a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Some CUA morning classes ended earlier than usual and some in the afternoon started late to accommodate those who wished to attend the Mass, held in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica.

The main celebrant and homilist was Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

"It is important for me to attend the Mass, because, in historic moments like this papal election, it is imperative that we come together as a community and give thanks to God for continuing to guide us and for gifting us with a new Holy Father. There is no greater place to give thanks than Mass,” said Lauren Scharmer, a junior majoring in social work from Lakeville, Minn.

The Basilica Mass was held the same day as the Mass for the inauguration of the new pontiff’s Petrine Ministry at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Scharmer, who got up early to watch TV coverage of the Vatican Mass, said she was intrigued with the conclave process. “I studied abroad in Rome last year, so I can almost envision myself there for all this excitement.”

She added, “People have said a lot about how the Church is failing to reach young people, but my experience has been the exact opposite. I'm so excited to learn from Pope Francis, and I think because of his gentle strength that he has already shown he will be able to reach a lot of people and bring them closer to Christ, which is the whole point."

Casey Lilley, a junior politics major from Wethersfield, Conn., said the new Pope was going to “be fantastic for our Church, especially for young people. For a long time I think too many people, especially the youth, have become estranged from the Church and have not felt as welcome in it as they should. Pope Francis has a truly genuine humility and concern for the poor and for those on the margins of society, and I think that as his papacy begins to reflect these values he embodies, people will be drawn back to Christ through the Church.”

Lilley said that it has been exciting to watch the papal coverage in Rome. He studied there last year, and will return this summer for an internship.

He added that he remembered seeing a picture of Pope Francis walking by a gate into Vatican City to greet people, a gate he walked by every day on the way to class. “I don't think anyone who walks by those gates would ever expect to see the Pope coming out of them to say hello after Sunday Mass, but there he was! It was another great example of how humble he is.”

“Pope Francis has made so many marks on the Church already and he hasn’t even been Pope for a week,” said Ajani Gibson, resident minister at Opus Hall and a sophomore philosophy major from New Orleans, La. “He is someone who is changing the face of the Church, but in a beautiful way by continuing the mission of Pope Benedict XVI.”

Gibson noted a “teaching moment” when Pope Francis first stepped out simply and humbly on a balcony last week at St. Peter’s Basilica to address the crowd gathered outside. “He is showing us, as our pontiff, our leader, let me show you what it means to be simple. It was beautiful.”

Gibson participated in the Basilica Mass as a master of ceremony, helping to direct those involved in the liturgy. “For me, it’s an honor to participate in and share in this moment,” he said. “It’s a special time for the Church and CUA. What better way to celebrate than with Mass? It’s the greatest form of prayer we have.”


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