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A papal home run

Papal Mass serves to ‘welcome home’ recent convert to the faith

by Joe Bollig

ATCHISON — For most people, the quintessential Yankee Stadium experience is seeing the star player knock one out of the park.

For Benedictine College students Kristin Hingula and Doug Ramp, that’s more or less what happened.

Only for them, it was a Mass, not a game. And their star player was Pope Benedict XVI.

The two Ravens were among the 57,000 Catholics who crowded “The House That Ruth Built” on April 20 in New York City to worship at a Mass presided over by the Holy Father. For an afternoon, “Throw the bum out!” was replaced by, “Benedetto! Benedetto!”

Not only did the excitement of the event match any game played there, but it also exceeded it in reverence.

“You could tell that people were very excited to be there, especially during the procession, when the pope first came out in his popemobile,” said Hingula, a junior from St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lansing. “You could hear everyone yelling and chanting for him, and it was so cool to see the excitement that people had.”

“But it was definitely a reverent Mass,” she said. “One part that struck me was during the consecration. Fifty-seven-thousand-plus people were in the stadium, and everyone was just silent. Only the glory of God could do that.”

For Ramp, a freshman from St. Joseph Parish in Friend, Neb., attending the papal Mass was like being welcomed into the family anew.

“It was very powerful to me,” said Ramp, a convert to the Catholic faith. “It was incredible, beautiful and amazing.”

It brought him, he said, a deep and unexpected sense of peace.

“For me, it was like, ‘You know what? I’m finally part of the family,’” he said. “I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in, but here I’m having Mass with the pope. It was a completion of coming into the Catholic Church. The pope’s message of hope, love, pro-life and doing God’s will really hit home to me.”

Both Hingula and Ramp got their opportunity to attend the Mass by writing winning essays in a contest, held by the college, for two tickets donated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.

“Archbishop Naumann was pretty incredible,” said Ramp. “He’s a very holy, humble man. He didn’t have to, but he gave us a wonderful dinner after the Mass.”

“It was such a beautiful meal,” he added, “and he talked about his experiences with the pope during the week and asked us questions. That was a big highlight — just to be in his presence.”

It’s too early to tell what kind of long-term impact their papal experience will have, said Hingula and Ramp. But, in the short term, they are working to share the spirit of the day.

“It sparked a fire in me that I want to share with others,” said Hingula. “I definitely hope it will last. I don’t see how it wouldn’t.”

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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