He touched area students spiritually

St. Maria Goretti sends some to D.C. to attend papal Mass

St. Maria Goretti sends some to D.C. to attend papal Mass

April 19, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - St. Maria Goretti High School junior Nick Daisey said he was so close to Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday that he could have touched him.

Daisey, 16, was one of six Goretti students who celebrated Mass with the Pope during his visit to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Principal Christopher Siedor chaperoned the trip.

"It was the opportunity of a lifetime," Daisey said Friday. "I'm glad I did it."

Daisey said he wasn't officially with the school. He attended Mass to take photographs for his father, Ajay Patil, who works at the White House and planned the pope's trip to America.

The rest of the St. Mary's contingent awoke early Thursday and drove with Siedor to Shady Grove, where they took a train to Washington.


Sandra Maina, a 17-year-old senior, said she was surprised that the regular commuters were mad at the passengers who crammed into the train on their pilgrimage to see the pope.

She said the trip was a perfect way to close her Catholic school career.

"For me, it was a surreal experience," Maina said. "To actually see him right in front of you, it was amazing."

Although none of the students met Pope Benedict XVI, they all seemed more than satisfied to be part of the trip.

"I was really excited and honored," said Gabrielle McDermott, a 15-year-old freshman. "I always looked up to the Holy Father. He's the symbol of our church. ... He wanted to touch the Catholics of America, and they wanted to touch him."

Junior Patrick Keenan, 16, said the mood among the crowd of almost 50,000 people was overwhelmingly positive, despite several anti-Catholic protesters who gathered outside the stadium.

"The priests just said, 'We'll pray for you,'" he said.

Rebecca Oney, 18, said one Goretti student from each class was chosen from a random drawing to make the trip.

Maina's name was not selected. She said she represented the school in her capacity as a member of the Archdiocese of Baltimore's Youth Advisory Council.

Oney said she always will remember how cold it was standing in the shadows of the stadium waiting for the pope to take the stage.

The program started at 10 a.m. - an hour behind schedule - and lasted nearly two hours.

"I was on the verge of tears many times," Oney said. "It was so moving."

Sophomore Mary George said she would always remember Thursday's trip.

"It's something I'll tell my grandkids," she said.

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