- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The students of Catholic University of America are eagerly awaiting Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to campus, and dream of what they would say if given the opportunity to meet him.

“It’s such an honor for him to be here, as he is the symbol of what I have believed for my entire life,” said Brenna Hanson, a senior majoring in vocal performance at CUA and a soprano for the university choir. “He is the closest thing to God that we have on earth right now.”

The choir will be singing in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center on Thursday evening when the pope addresses the presidents of 200 Catholic colleges and universities and education leaders from 195 dioceses as part of his six-day visit to the United States.

Like many of her fellow choir members, Miss Hanson hopes to hear a strong papal message in support of Catholic education in America.

Video:Protocol chief smooths the way for the pope

Miss Hanson said her 16 years of Catholic education have shaped her life.

“It’s important to make Catholic education as wonderful as possible and to have religion play a larger role,” she said.

Peter Osgood is preparing to meet the pope as the winner of the Catholic University essay contest on the theme “How Catholic Education Has Shaped My Life.”

“I’m just so overwhelmed with all the anticipation of what it’s going to be like to meet someone who is so influential,” Mr. Osgood said. “He’s the leader of the church; he’s the leader of the world.”

Mr. Osgood, a senior biology student who plans to attend medical school in the fall, hopes to ask the pope to bless his hands.

Benedict’s blessing will “help me better serve my patients in the future,” Mr. Osgood said.

Students who have little chance of meeting the pope still dream of what it would be like.

Jon Laird, a first-year graduate student seeking his master’s degree in sacred music and a bass in the choir, said he would jump at the chance to ask for a blessing.

Brian Niemiec, a junior and a tenor in the CUA choir, said he would ask whether Benedict ever dreamed that he would become the successor of Peter.

“We can get a firsthand look at him as Americans, and it’s going to be kind of like building a relationship with him,” said Anna Reed, a senior majoring in vocal performance and a soprano in the CUA choir.

“It’s going to be very personal,” Miss Reed said.

Mr. Niemiec said Americans can expect to hear a message of integrating God into all parts of life.

Like the university’s motto, “Deus Lux Mea Est,” or “God Is My Light,” Mr. Niemiec said, God’s presence should permeate all layers of life.

He said, “God is part of your life — not just on Sundays.”


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