Catholic University Commemorates Papal Visit

Recalls Pope’s Challenge to Help Students Encounter God

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 2, 2009 ( The Catholic University of America is celebrating the first anniversary of Benedict XVI’s visit with a commemorative Mass.

Father David O’Connell, the university’s president, announced Wednesday that there will be a Mass on April 17 to commemorate the Pope’s visit to campus last year. The Eucharistic celebration, taking place in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception adjoining the school’s campus, will include prospective students and families, who will be touring the school that day.

The priest welcomed the occasion «for the national university of the Catholic Church in our country to celebrate our unique Catholic identity and mission on the very date of Pope Benedict’s visit last year.

He added, «I am delighted that we will be able to celebrate and share our wonderful memories of the Holy Father’s visit to Washington last year, especially to the magnificent basilica and the campus.»

Benedict XVI addressed the U.S. bishops at the basilica on April 16 last year. The next day, he visited the university’s campus to speak to the leaders of Catholic colleges and diocesan educators.

Profound responsibility

On that occasion, he said: «Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.»

The Pontiff affirmed that «set against personal struggles, moral confusion and fragmentation of knowledge, the noble goals of scholarship and education, founded on the unity of truth and in service of the person and the community, become an especially powerful instrument of hope.»

He emphasized: «A university or school’s Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students. It is a question of conviction — do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear? Are we ready to commit our entire self — intellect and will, mind and heart — to God?»

The Holy Father encouraged educators to «recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love.»

«Indeed,» he added, «the dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated.»

«Once their passion for the fullness and unity of truth has been awakened,» the Pope affirmed, «young people will surely relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of what they ought to do.» He continued, «Here they will experience ‘in what’ and ‘in whom’ it is possible to hope, and be inspired to contribute to society in a way that engenders hope in others.»

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