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From the President's Desk


  Monsignor Kevin Irwin, who is in Rome for the semester, is writing a blog during the papal transition.

The announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation last month made for a busier than usual February. The news is bittersweet. We are sad to see a wise pope retire. He leaves behind a great legacy as a theologian and a leader of the Church. At the same time, we are eager to see who will be our next leader. As a University we pray for Pope Benedict as he makes the transition. We also pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the conclave as it selects our new pope.

I would like to give special thanks to all of our faculty members who have made themselves available for media interviews since the news of the resignation broke, particularly the faculty in our Schools of Canon Law and Theology and Religious Studies. Eighteen members of our faculty have volunteered to speak to the media about Pope Benedict, the papacy, and the Catholic Church. Earlier this week four took part in a press conference that we held in Nugent Hall via telephone conference call with more than a dozen journalists. It is important to engage the media. As Monsignor Kevin Irwin, former dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies, wrote recently, “With all that is said about the media pro and con, I judge it important to respond to press inquiries. I think that it is a privilege for us to speak about the church honestly and positively.” That excerpt comes from a blog Monsignor Irwin is writing during the papal transition, Dispatches from the Conclave. He is teaching in Rome this semester, and brings his sharp eye and vast experience of the Holy See to bear on his writing. We are fortunate to have our own man on the ground. If you are following the transition, I commend his blog to your attention.

As you pray for the Church during this time of change, I hope you will also keep in your prayers Brother Patrick Ellis, the 13th president of Catholic University, who died on February 21. I went to La Salle University on Wednesday for his funeral.

Arpad Klimo, associate professor of history, and President Garvey on Capitol Hill.

Earlier that day I testified in Congress before a House subcommittee about the scourge of anti-Semitism and the threat it poses to all faith groups. On the way downtown I found myself thinking how wise the bishops were to establish Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in the thick of things. While we waited for the hearing to begin, Professor Arpad Klimo from our history department stopped by to say hello. He had come to hear the testimony of a Hungarian speaker for a book he is writing on the history of Hungary. Two weeks earlier Professor Roger Colinvaux from the Columbus School of Law testified before the House Ways and Means Committee about changes to the tax code. These kinds of opportunities for our faculty and students would be few and far between if the University were located in Saint Louis or northern New Jersey.

Congratulations to our men’s and women’s basketball teams on their successful seasons. Men’s basketball is currently 24-3, and won its first Landmark Conference title. The men will host The College of Staten Island on March 2 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The women did even better. They are 26-1, and won their second consecutive Landmark Conference title. They will host Cabrini today (March 1) in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I hope our students, staff, and faculty will come out to show their support for both teams. Since our students begin spring break today, and many will be away for the week, it would be wonderful if faculty and staff who stay in town could come out to root for our teams.

While I’m on the subject of athletics, I want to applaud all of our student athletes. We should be extraordinarily proud of them. They show an admirable ability to juggle academics and athletics, and they perform well in both. Our women’s cross country team won its first Landmark Conference championship last fall and our field hockey won its second conference championship. Congratulations to all of our fall and winter teams on their many successes. We wish all of our spring teams the best of luck as their seasons get started.

Lent is well under way. It’s fortuitous that spring break occurs during this time, because it provides many of you with the opportunity not only to relax but also to engage in prayer and reflection. Campus Ministry has put together a wonderful collection of resources on the theme “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace” to help us deepen our faith this Lent. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to visit the website. Easter comes early this year. It will be upon us before March is over. I hope you take advantage of the contemplative and penitential season of Lent, and have a very happy and holy Easter. And to our students on spring break, please stay safe.