Letter from John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America
The Catholic University of America is overjoyed to welcome Pope Francis to our campus during his apostolic visit to the United States this September. When the Holy Father celebrates Mass on the stairs of the East Portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on September 23, 2015, he will look out over our beautiful campus. The congregation attending the Mass will fill our University Mall.
The Holy Father’s visit to the Basilica will be an extraordinary moment for The Catholic University of America—and for the Church in the United States. It will be a remarkable series of firsts: This will not only be Pope Francis’s first papal visit to the United States, it will be his first-ever visit to the country. Pope Francis will be the first pope from the Americas to visit America. And when he canonizes Blessed Junípero Serra, it will be the first canonization to take place in the United States.
He will not, however, be the first pope to visit CUA. The visit will mark the third time a pope has come to the University. In 1979 Pope John Paul II delivered a major address to Catholic educators on our campus. Following in his footsteps, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address on the nature and mission of Catholic education on our campus. No other U.S. university has hosted a pope more than once. This unprecedented record is a reminder of Catholic University’s unique relationship to the Holy See as the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States.
We are preparing our campus for the Holy Father’s visit. We are also working to prepare ourselves—and all those anticipating Pope Francis’s visit—to welcome him. On this website you will find resources to do just that. Here you will find information and regular updates pertaining to Pope Francis’s visit to the Basilica. You will also find news and commentary from University faculty, students, and staff on a variety of subjects, from the University’s preparation for the papal visit to the writings and example of Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has said, “Our God, is not a God of habits, he is a God of surprises.” We might say the same thing about our Holy Father. Pope Francis is constantly surprising the Church and the world, whether with a spontaneous gesture of compassion, announcing an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, or his vivid expressions. He has both shocked and delighted Catholics of every stripe and people across the political spectrum. But everywhere Pope Francis has travelled, he has shared the goodness and mercy of God. I am sure Pope Francis’s visit to the United States and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will bring many wonderful surprises and inspire us with the joy of the Gospel.
Thank you for joining us as we prepare to welcome Pope Francis to The Catholic University of America.