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Every so often something happens which makes me very proud of my school. Today was one of those days. Fr. Shanley has done an excellent job since he became president three years ago. In addition to the current solid faculty, the theology department has attracted theologians such as David Bentley Hart. The college has also hosted theology conferences such as was held last year featuring Avery Cardinal Dulles.

From the Providence Journal:
Emphasis added

When Pope Benedict XVI asked to address Catholic educators during his recent visit to the United States, there was much speculation that he would scold Catholic college presidents for failing to remain true to the mission of their institutions. As all of America learned, however, the Holy Father is not a scold. He is a teacher of hope who believes that “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.” I returned from my encounter with him filled with hope for Providence College and convinced that it is realizing his vision — and the vision of our Dominican Friar founders — for Catholic education.

Many of the themes addressed by Pope Benedict in his remarks resonate deeply with the mission of Providence College and remind us of the unique place that a Catholic college or university occupies in higher education. For example, Pope Benedict considers one of the church’s roles in the world as a service (diakonia) of truth. In a time where there is widespread doubt about objective truth, a Catholic college such as Providence College (whose motto is veritas, or truth) is seen as countercultural, based on the optimistic proposition that the human mind has been created by God to know the ultimate truth. In opposition to the view that there are only perspective-based points of view, we believe that students can integrate what they learn into a unified view of the whole; we reject the popular assumption that all claims to knowledge are fragments that do not fit together.

Pope Benedict further articulated that knowledge of the truth leads to an appreciation of the good, and that true freedom is not the aimless pursuit of novelty or personal satisfaction, but choosing to embrace the truth about the dignity of the human person as made in the image and likeness of God. Catholic colleges do not focus on students’ intellect alone but equally on their moral character. We explicitly help our students to come to know the good and recognize the dignity of the human person through studies in ethics and moral philosophy and through participation in meaningful community service.

Pope Benedict introduced the intriguing idea of “intellectual charity” as a particularly urgent imperative in Catholic education. He noted the Catholic educator’s call to “recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love.” Once this passion for the fullness of unity and truth is awakened in students, the pope observed, “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.” As a teacher and administrator, I have watched this discovery of God’s providence unfold in countless students. We succeed not when students find employment for employment’s sake, but rather when they know the value of work within the context of a meaningful life that is focused on communion with God and service to others.

One of the most controversial issues on a Catholic college campus is the meaning of academic freedom. Pope Benedict thoughtfully described it as the “freedom to search for truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you,” and affirmed that the coherence and identity of a Catholic institution depends on all aspects of its life being consistent with the truth. Rooted in the harmony of faith and reason, a Catholic college is fundamentally optimistic that such a search for truth — undertaken in accord with scholarly canons of inquiry — will not lead to conclusions that contradict faith. So academic freedom cannot be invoked in order to justify positions that contradict the faith — because truth cannot contradict itself.

The remark in the pope’s address that elicited a spontaneous round of applause from all present was his exhortation that Catholic education must remain “accessible to people of all social and economic strata.” In describing the history of Catholic education in America, Pope Benedict notes that Catholic education has “helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society.” This aptly describes the historic mission of Providence College. We remain committed to inviting and enrolling applicants from underrepresented populations, including economically disadvantaged students from urban schools and first-generation college students. In recent years, we have reinvigorated this mission by removing the barrier of standardized testing for applicants and by devoting greater resources to need-based scholarships.

Spring is decision time for college-bound students and their parents, who, the Holy Father noted, “recognize the need for excellence in the human formation of their children.” One marvelous feature of the American higher-educational landscape is its rich diversity. Students can choose from a wide array of institutional characteristics and values: public and private, religious and secular, urban and rural, large and small, and so many others. The best way for Catholic education to serve America is by providing a distinctive educational option for students and their parents. Pope Benedict has defined those distinctive features. It is my responsibility to see that Providence College continues to embody them.

The Rev. Brian J. Shanley is president of Providence College.


Part 2 is available here.

The music began and the Cardinals began to process to the altar. The music was spectacular!

The Cardinals in Procession (The first three are DiNardo, O’Malley and Rigali)

If you look very closely, you will be able to see Pope Benedict’s miter and staff next to the black wall.

Incensing the Book of the Gospels. The candles which were held at the ambo are visible.

The homily

The Mass was beautiful even though we were watching it on TV. At seemingly every opportunity those seated in the front of the stadium erupted into cheers of Be-ne-dic-to! There was an exceptionally excited group in the upper left level. Before Mass, they had been doing the wave. The bleachers were very quiet.

Communion in my area went very slowly. We were instructed to descend from the top down and to go to the left, down the stairs, through the corridor, around through the inside and back to our seats. It was not even close to the way the video explained it. By the time the Holy Father gave the final blessing only the people in the upper 8 rows had received the Eucharist. I was in the 5th row from the bottom. For some reason, we did not receive Communion.

After Mass, the Holy Father returned to the Popemobile and finally the electric energy returned to the bleachers. We were going to get to see him. The people went to the lower area in order to get a better view, since the wall was higher than the Popemobile. The NYPD in my section did not like that and ordered everyone to return to their seats, although the people in other areas were not ordered to move. The people returned to their seats, but because the group in front of me was refusing to move and was preventing my return to my seat, I was stuck there. The police were getting very testy and I thought someone was going to get arrested. Finally, someone in charge said we could stay at the wall.

Finally he came to my area.

People were screaming and waving the white and yellow handkerchiefs.

Bye-bye Papa!

The Mass was beautiful, the music was perfect, the homily was awesome. I have since watched the Mass online and we definitely missed out on so much beauty. I know that planning a Mass like this is a huge responsibility, but I hope those who have this responsibility in the future will take care to ensure that the people in the back get as beautiful a view as those in the front. Also, I hope they will realize that even looking at the Holy Father’s back from a distance is more exciting than looking at a TV and knowing that the TV is blocking our view. I and those sitting near me would have not minded watching Pope Benedict celebrate Mass ad orientum. It would have created a much more prayerful environment and a sense that we were actually at Mass.

While watching the video I discovered that the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Boston was severely reprimanded by the Secret Service for reaching out to the Holy Father and it even appeared the Pope Benedict, himself, was slapped by an agent. Bishops who reached out to shake hands with the Holy Father did not fare much better. I found security to be far too harsh. I know they had the best of intentions, but I doubt the Pope needs to be protected from his own bishops.

To those who think I am just bitter and ungrateful, I am not. I am delighted to have been there. It was a momentous and spectacular day that I am grateful to have been a part of. I simply think that everyone should have been given equal consideration. This was my 5th time seeing Pope Benedict (I was exceptionally close all 4 previous times); but for most of the people there, this was their first and likely only opportunity. A police officer told me that only 1/3 of the people in the stadium could see the altar. I don’t know why the sanctuary was set up the way that it was, but there must have been a better option.

To those who have to plan Masses like this in the future: remember the folks in the cheap seats too! We don’t mind facing the same way as the celebrant.

So, after all that, what was the best part of the Mass? For me, it was seeing the Holy Father and being united with Catholics of all ages and walks of life from all over the country. The theme of this Apostolic visit was Christ our Hope and my hope was definately renewed by the large numbers of young seminarians, priests, and sisters, as well as the large numbers of young laity. The church is alive, even if it is not obvious in your own parish.

Photos by Domini Sumus

Part 1 can be found here.

Ronan Tynan

By the time we reached our seats, a good portion of the Concert of Hope was already over. Although the concert sounded great on TV, the loud songs did not sound as good in person. I wish the songs would have played more of a role in preparing us for Holy Mass, but it was still awesome to hear so many musicians I admire.

Jose Feliciano

The paper birds were pretty at first

The real birds were better

Security was in full force.

When the concert was over, we waited for the Holy Father. The excitement was electric. We waited for the popemobile to emerge and finally…Papa!

As he made his way around the stadium we expected that he would make a complete lap so everyone would be able to see him up close, but he stopped in front of the altar and went into the locker room to prepare for Mass. Many of the people seated in my area began to grumble because they had been unable to even see him.

Photos by Domini Sumus

After only three hours sleep, at 5 am, I headed to the parking lot where I was to meet the bus. I checked in with the bus captain and boarded the large charter coach bus. There were three buses, and 137 pilgrims traveling from my diocese (My diocese recieved 100 tickets, but the Archdiocese of Boston graciously provided 37 extra tickets). We left for New York promptly at 6 am and I finished up on my sleep.

Around 10 am we were treated to the video Inside the Vatican. It was an appropriate foreward to the Papal Mass. As we approached Yankee Stadium it became apparent that we were at the end of a long stream of buses. It took half an hour to reach the parking lot and get off the bus. It was now 11 am. No problem! We still have an hour to get in the stadium, right!

We walked from the bus to the skybridge that lead to the stadium. Along the way volunteers were offering pilgrims free bottles of water and police officers reminded us to have our tickets out for a spot check. I was waved through with no problem.

As I climbed the stairs to the skybridge, I saw a simple sign on the stadium announcing the Pope’s arrival. There were so many people in front of us that at times I wondered if the stairs and bridge would be able to support all the weight. I didn’t need to worry. We crossed the bridge with no problems and I saw the mob of people. A police officer checked my ticket and told me which gate to enter (there would be fewer people there, she said). I walked to the gate and after half an hour I finally reached the gate. As I handed my camera and purse to the Secret Service another Secret Service agent barked, “Bleacher tickets will not be accepted at this gate!”. What! I just waited in line for half an hour and now you tell me! I had asked before getting into line if this was the right line and I was assured that it was. I pleaded my case, but it was futile.

Now I only had 15 minutes to get into the stadium before the doors would be closed. I kept thinking about the other diocesan pilgrimages where pilgrims had been left disappointed. (My diocese has a poor record for getting pilgrims into events. Pilgrims to World Youth Day in Toronto never made it into the Papal Mass, Pilgrims to the Consistory in 2006 missed both the reception at the North American College and Cardinal O’Malley’s Mass of Thanksgiving.) I got into the line that the Secret Service instructed me to enter. The line was huge, but my Portuguese heritage and my Roman experience taught me a lot about dealing with lines. Yes, I cut in front of several hundred people. To them, I apologize. I trust that if you had just spent half an hour in a line only to be told that the person who told you it was the right line was wrong, you would understand. 😉

After having my purse and camera bag emptied and searched, I passed through the Secret Service check and entered the stadium around 12:05. I recieved a package containing an issue of Catholic Digest, the Gospel of John, an issue of NY Priest, a poncho, and a white handkerchief. I could hear the music from the Concert of Hope through the speakers. Now, where were the bleacher.

I couldn’t find the bleachers anywhere, but as I looked through the openings onto the field the sanctuary was beautiful! I had to get a program from another entrance because we weren’t given them at my entrance, actually the same entrance I had originally tried to enter. Yes, I had to pass that entrance to get to my seat. Makes sense, right? I finally found my seat and what a disappointment. I couldn’t see a thing.
Part 2 can he found here.
Photos by Domini Sumus

We have spent much time thinking of what the Holy Father gave us during his apostolic visit, but what about what we have given him. Yes, he has recieved a Seder plate, a skateboard, and a whole series of material gifts, but apparently we have given him something greater: faith.

Think you read something wrong? You didn’t. On April 19th, Pope Benedict recorded an ad which is being aired on The Catholic Channel, a radio station operated by the Archdiocese of New York and broadcasted on Sirius Satellite Radio. The ad can be heard here. Click on “His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI speaks to American Catholics on The Catholic Channel”.

What you hear in the finished ad was not the only version which was recorded. Vatican Radio reported on April 20th that the Holy Father deviated from the prepared script during a voice test and said, “I came to the United States to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith, but I have to say that American Catholics are confirming me in my faith”. Listen to the report here (27:16 on the audio feed).

Wow! What a thought! It is not one that surprises me, though. Pope Benedict’s joy and vibrance was more obvious during this trip than at any other time. Now we know why. Not only was the Supreme Pastor feeding his sheep, but the sheep were also feeding the Pastor. Isn’t that how it should be all the time.

Love your priests, care for your priests, feed your priests! Simple gestures, and sincere expressions of faith, and genuine love can go a long way in confirming our clergy in faith.

I have noticed certain bloggers scoffing at the Build A Bear papal T-Shirt. When I first heard about it I too wondered about the value of the item, but I was taught much about the mystery of evangelism yesterday.

My son has several stuffed animals from Build a Bear, so I thought that he would enjoy having the t-shirt since he was so disappointed that I was going to the papal Mass without him. I thought he would put it on one of the animals he already has. I was mistaken!

When he saw the shirt I noticed a light go on in his head. He then demanded that I take him to get another animals especially for the shirt. “They CAN’T wear the shirt! It’s not right for them”, he said. He was so insistent that yesterday I took him to Build a Bear. He refused to tell me what kind of animal he wanted, but he was a 3 year old on a mission. We walked into the store and he immediately grabbed an orange cat. Without saying a word he brought it to the girl who ran the stuffing machine and said, “I want this one”. After the cat was stuffed, the girl asked JP what he was going to name his cat. The answer, “Chico!”

I was out foxed by a three year old. What better animal to wear a shirt with Pope Benedict’s picture than an orange tabby cat named Chico?

When we got home JP pulled out his copy of Joseph and Chico and asked me to read it. I have to summarize the story to make it interesting for a three year old because it is written for a much older child, but JP loves the book. He asked me to read it to him twice today.

Taking a picture of Chico was a challenge’ JP takes him everywhere, and Chico even keeps him company in bed.

Suffering from Pope withdrawl? Get your B16 supplement in this week’s Catholic Carnival in which we remember some of the papal events of the past week.

The Welcoming Ceremony:

I, Domini Sumus, present my post Benedict Makes People Sit Down, Shut Up, and Listen which is an newspaper article which features the almost prophetic thoughts of a priest and fellow blogger.

At A Catholic View, Christine presents links to all her coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States, including articles photos and videos in Papal Coverage.

Rick presents a look back at Pope John Paul the Great’s visit to Washington in 1979, including photos, commentary on music, and a reproduction of the program from the Papal Mass on the Mall in The Pope Comes to Washington posted at Rick Sincere News and Thoughts.

The Mass at National’s Park:

Uh-oh! Redneck Woman is fired up over at Postscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill. In Catholics and the Second Commandment she answers the seemingly timeless question, have Catholics really ignored the “Second” Commandment?

Sarah has company Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. Guest blogger, Heather, presents her fourth installment where she tells about the Easter Vigil Mass and her experience as a newly-baptized member of the Catholic Church in Journey to Jesus Part Four

Think the image on the holy card is what it was really like? Michelle asks us to allow God to show himself to us in Let God Escape the Confines of the Holy Cards where she presents a reflection on images of the Good Shepherd with some advice on prayer from St. Ignatius and St. Gregory the Great posted at Philly Catholic Spirituality.

Meeting with Catholic Educators:

If you are like me, you don’t know much about St. Anselm of Canterbury. Learn more about him though Jean’s post St. Anselm of Canterbury: Favorite Quotes, Prayers, and Writings posted at Catholic Fire.

Marcel presents a break-down and analysis of the Pope’s address to educators in Address from PBXVI to Educators posted at Aggie Catholics (aka Mary’s Aggies)

Elena writes about her struggles and successes to transform her home into a domestic church in How to have a Domestic Church part 1 posted at My Domestic Church.

Ecumenical Prayer Service:

Denise contemplates the difference between offering a life boat to salvation and firing a shot across the bow when engaging in ecumenical dialogue in Man the Life Boats! posted at Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom.

Mass with Clergy and Religious:

Fr. V at Adam’s Ale asks “Is clericalism still alive and well?” He concludes that it may be lurking around in disguise, but not necessarily in the places you expect in I Want to Change My Answer.

The Meeting with Youth and Seminarians:

In Charisma or Charism which is posted at Apostolate of the Laity, David hopes that Pope Benedict’s visit will allow Americans to pause and think about who they want to govern their culture.

In Girls Gone Mild, which posted at Contrariwise, Lindsay presents her impressive guest column about modesty, chastity, and the true roles of men and women in relationships which was published in her campus newspaper.

Theresa L. Twogood tells us about the immoral gift bags given to prom attendees in Bisbee Arizona in Coming To A School Near You Soon posted at OLIN e-Book e-Publishing.

The Mass at Yankee Stadium:

Kevin presents a reflection on the Mass readings for the fifth Sunday of Easter in CHRISTIAN FAITH, THE WORLD, AND HEAVEN posted at HMS Blog.

In The Living Stone We Stumble Upon, Joe also reflects on the readings from the fifth Sunday of Easter. In the second reading, the first pope shares his thoughts on Christ as cornerstone and as stumbling block. What lessons can we learn from Peter, a man who stumbled many times in his journey with Jesus. Posted at Ho Kai Paulos.

In Mother in the Night: Article at American Chronicle, Heidi presents an post includes a hyperlink to an article she wrote about the Blessed Mother and her protective care, which she experienced as a foster mother …
and my Protestant sister experienced while she was in the middle of an abusive marriage posted at Behold Your Mother.

Heidi also submitted a second post from her blog Mommy Monsters. Here she provides a short promo about her new book “Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert.” in “Behold Your Mother” YouTube video.

The Farewell Ceremony:

How do you see Jesus. Steven from Book Reviews and More presents an essay written at the beginning of a course called ‘Jesus: Life and Legacy’ my understanding and personal view of Jesus at the start of the term in Prophet, Priest and King; Lord, God and Friend, This is My Jesus!

The Crowd outside the Events:

Thinking of watching a movie? Tamika M. Murray presents an interesting, even though not particularly Catholic post in Freaky Friday-There Will Be Blood posted at PJSandAMovie.

James DeLelys promoted his book with a post on what is Love in WORDS » Articles posted at WORDS.

Photo credits:
1) Larry Downing/Reuters
2) Jim Bourg/Reuters

3) Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

4) AP Photo/Mike Segar, Pool

5) Gary Hershorn/Reuters

6) REUTERS/Erin Siegal

7) Domini Sumus

8) AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)
9) AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
The Mass in New York was beautiful!

This was my view of the Mass.

Just one of the many large groups of seminarians.
More story and photos to come tonight.

I have to be honest. Despite all the papal visit blogging I have been doing here, it has mainly been because of the extraordinary number of hits rather than my own personal excitement.

I know you are all saying, “Huh? You aren’t excited about it?” Well, yes and no. I am thrilled that he is here because I think it will help the U.S. see him as he really is, rather than the caricature which the media and others present.

But, I have already seen Pope Benedict four times, so my excitement at seeing him in person has been rather low key. If someone told me that I was going to go up and greet him personally I would be jumping out of my seat, but I won’t be. Instead, I will be sitting on a bleacher behind the altar, behind the column, in the rain (threat of thunderstorms), to see the Pope on a Jumbotron. (Especially when I just found out that I could have gotten field seats)

It’s quite a disappointment compared to my previous papal encounters. The first time I was literally close enough to touch him. The next two times I was in the first row in St. Peter’s Square. The fourth time I was further away, but still close enough to see him very well.

However, after watching the coverage of the papal events I am reminded of the first time I saw Pope Benedict and the I don’t care if I am getting wet in the obstructed view, cheap seats. I want to welcome my Holy Father to my country and show him the love which America has for him, the Church, and the office of the Pope.

After all, that is what it’s all about.

By the way, does anyone can connections where I can greet Pope Benedict personally? Hey, it was worth asking!

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