Saint Anselm Monks Take Part in Pope’s Visit

May 2, 2008

Fr. Anselm, Abbott Matthew, and Fr. Benard attended the Papal mass in Washington, D.C. in mid-April.Four monks from Saint Anselm took part in the visit of Pope Benedict XVI when he came to the United States for six days in mid-April.College President Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., joined Catholic educators in a meeting with Pope Benedict at Catholic University in Washington April 17. Earlier that day, Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B., Father Anselm Smedile, O.S.B., and Father Bernard Disco, O.S.B., concelebrated the Mass with the pontiff in the Washington Nationals stadium.

Father Jonathan said he was pleased that the Pope’s speech on Catholic education was not the scolding that some had predicted it might be. Rather, the Pope expressed gratitude for Catholic education in the United States, remarking on its historic role in lifting immigrants from poverty and into the mainstream and even leadership positions in this country. He called on the 200 Catholic college and university presidents, and 195 Catholic school superintendents who attended the meeting to continue their good work.

Father Jonathan said he read the Pope’s speech several times after hearing it, and was particularly struck by his term “intellectual charity,” which he used in describing education as an act of love.

“I think it is a beautiful concept of what our role is,” said Father Jonathan. “It is a way of exercising love when you help young people understand the truth about themselves and about God and the world. I think the concept of education being an act of love is something I want to reflect more about.”

Prior to that meeting, Abbot Matthew, Father Bernard and Father Anselm had arrived at the Washington Nationals stadium by 8 a.m. to be vested and on the field for a 10 a.m. Mass. Father Bernard estimated that more than 500 priests were present, along with dozens of bishops and cardinals. In all, more than 46,000 people attended the Mass and listened to the Pope’s homily.

“It was a wonderful experience to celebrate the faith with more than 40,000 people,” Father Bernard said.

Father Bernard and Father Anselm are big baseball fans, so being on a major league field itself was a thrill. (The Pope celebrated Mass the following day at Yankee Stadium.) But that did not compare to being close to Pope Benedict, Father Bernard said.

“Getting within 30 feet of the Pope as he drove around the warning track was tops for my day,” he said.

Photo caption: Pictured left to right, Fr. Anselm Smedile, O.S.B., Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B., and Fr. Bernard Disco, O.S.B. Additional photos are available on Saint Anselm’s Flickr site.


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