Twenty four Quinnipiac students, led by Father Jonathan Kalisch, traveled to New York last weekend to see Pope Benedict XVI.
“I’m really excited, I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said junior biology pre-med major Gloria Obasi prior to leaving.
Kalisch and the students began their journey with a gathering and prayer vigil at NYU on Friday. On Saturday, they attended a Papal youth rally in Yonkers.
Rising early, the Quinnipiac contingent arrived first of 20,000 attendees.
“We were as close as you could get for general admission,” Kalisch said afterwards.
Perhaps the climax came on Sunday, when the group joined nearly 60,000 others in attending a Mass led by the Pope at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s a very historic moment,” Kalisch said. “My hope is to be personally renewed.”
Kalisch is the Catholic Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry at Quinnipiac University.
Last week marked the first trip to the United States for Benedict XVI as Pope.
Kalisch applied for tickets to see the Pope through the Archdiocese of Hartford, with further tickets provided by Dominican Campus Ministries in the New York City area.
The group spent Thursday afternoon busily preparing for the trip. They gathered tarps, blankets, maps, directions and food. Kalisch was also prepared for a high level of security.
“It’s a major undertaking, that’s for sure,” he said.
Yet, the students appeared willing to exert all necessary effort.
“It’s pretty great to get to see him in my lifetime,” freshman sociology major Angela Julian said.
The most important preparation was spiritual. Those taking the trip spent time reading Benedict’s writings and preparing for his message.
“I think it’s really important that he’s addressing the youth of the U.S.,” said freshman nursing major Allie Massey in the midst of preparation.
Part of the preparation was a Novena, nine days of prayer leading into the Sunday mass.
“It’s all worth it to see the Pope, especially at Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t get better than that,” said sophomore journalism major T.J. Buzzeo beforehand.
After the Yankee Stadium Mass, the students were able to take on an active role in history. Fourteen students went to Sirius Satellite Radio Studios to comment nationally on the Papal visit.
“I think everyone personally experienced something on a deep level,” said Kalisch.
He added that most were disappointed to see news coverage of Benedict XVI leaving.
“A lot of our pilgrimage was going to bed really late and waking up really early. Then we would have to fight through crowds of 20,000-60,000 people (depending on the event) to get a good spot, but I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Buzzeo in an e-mail Monday morning.