Catholic college students honor Pope Benedict's last days

Bishop Jeffrey Monforton bishop of Steubenville celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter Credit Franciscan University of Steubenville CNA 2 27 13 Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, bishop of Steubenville, celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. | Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Students at American Catholic universities are observing the end of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy with special Masses, prayers and acts of charity.

At Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, "Christ the King Chapel was filled to overflowing" during a holy hour on Feb. 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, said Tom Sofio, a public relations official.

Sofio told CNA that hundreds of students attended the holy hour – which was held "in thanksgiving for Pope Benedict's papacy and to pray for the new pope" – as well as the subsequent Mass celebrated by Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton.

In addition, he said, almost 130 students enrolled in the university's study abroad program in Austria re-arranged their schedules and traveled by buses on a 16-hour overnight trip to Rome for the Pope's final audience on Feb. 27.

Franciscan University was one of several Catholic colleges that had special Masses, prayers and other events to honor the final days of Pope Benedict's papacy. The Holy Father is stepping down at the end of February due to failing strength and advanced age.

The University of Notre Dame celebrated two Feb. 27 Masses at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart for Pope Benedict and in thanksgiving for his service to the Church.

Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., hosted a multi-day celebration in thanksgiving for Pope Benedict's ministry.

Events included several Masses, a faculty lecture, Eucharistic holy hour, student-organized panel on the Holy Father's contributions to the Church and student service project to prepare meals for the poor, in the spirit of Pope Benedict's 2005 encyclical on love, "Deus Caritas Est."

In New Jersey, Seton Hall University's Immaculate Conception Seminary held a Feb. 27 colloquium on Pope Benedict's legacy.

The event featured speakers from the School of Theology who specialize in Sacred Scripture and Systematic Theology.

Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., will celebrate Mass and then ring the bells at St. Benedict's Abbey, adjacent to campus, at 1:00 p.m., which is 8:00 p.m. in Rome, the time at which the Holy Father will officially step down.

Students in the University of Dallas' Rome program attended the Pope's final public Mass on Ash Wednesday at St. Peter's Basilica, the university said.

University of Dallas student Ada Thomas said it was "bittersweet" to be there.

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