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Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

May 2008

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College president attends papal gathering

When Pope Benedict XVI made his first apostolic journey to the United States last month, President William Hynes was among those with a rare chance to greet the Holy Father.

The pope gave a half-hour address on Catholic education to a formal gathering of some 200 that included presidents of U.S. Catholic colleges and universities, as well as Catholic school superintendents and administrators representing each U.S. diocese or archdiocese.

Hynes was one of several presidents from a Wisconsin institution to attend, and said it meant a great deal that the pope thanked them for their efforts. Hynes described the pope as quiet and scholarly, with a twinkle in his eye. “He was very complimentary of what we do,” recalls Hynes.

The president said he was delighted and honored to represent the college at this event, which took place on April 17 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“There was a crackle in the air,” said Hynes after the meeting. “This is a first-ever event in history—a sitting pope meeting with all the presidents of Catholic colleges and universities.”

Hynes described the papal gathering as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“As a historian of Christianity, it is a rare moment to hear directly from a living pope what’s on his mind about higher education,” he said.

The Rev. Jim Baraniak, O.Praem., ’88, pastor of Old St. Joseph Church, was also in D.C. to greet the pope. He was among those who joined President George Bush and the first lady in welcoming His Holiness to the White House.

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