Yesterday, March 13, was a historic date for Thomas More College. During daily morning Mass, College Chaplain Father Healey prayed for a new pope. At about two in the afternoon, excited shouts could be heard: news had arrived on campus of white smoke seen issuing from the Sistine Chapel. Classes were immediately cancelled, and students could be seen flocking to the chapel to pray in thanksgiving for the election of a new shepherd over the Universal Church.
After singing the Veni Creator Spiritus, there was a general rush to the library, where groups of students craned their necks to watch the coverage of the new Pope’s entrance onto the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The only students absent were those currently completing the Rome Semester who were present at Saint Peter’s in the flesh. At the suggestion of the faculty present, one of the juniors was sent to fetch a few bottles of celebratory champagne. The excitement mounted, and when His Holiness Francis, the 265th Successor of Peter appeared, students erupted into loud cheers of “Viva il Papa!” all around.
The rest of the afternoon took on a festive mood, to say the least. Some students were singing, others were calling family members, and still others were basking in the sunny weather with pipes in hand. The celebratory nature of the occasion put a temporary check to Lenten discipline, yielding to an impromptu student exodus to a nearby family-run ice cream stand.
At supper, President Fahey gave a short address to the student body expressing the College’s profound gratitude for the election of a new pontiff. Following the speech, a dozen generously-donated bottles of champagne were brought out to toast Pope Francis and his pontificate. After the toast, students sang the ancient hymn Te Deum Laudamus in thanksgiving.
Thomas More College expresses its profound gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the election of Pope Francis. Following the Magisterial teaching on higher education as found in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the College joyfully lives out its Catholic identity by proposing to its students—and to the world—the truth as found in the person of Jesus Christ and His Church. We prayerfully hope that the witness of Pope Francis be an example and inspiration for the College’s mission to rejoice in the pursuit of truth.