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Visit with the Pope
A Moment to Remember

NEW YORK ----On Saturday afternoon, April 19, Pope Benedict XVI met with Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., in a private audience at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York. The Pope literally bounded into the room with a big smile on his face.  He went directly to where Cardinal Dulles was sitting, saying, "Eminenza, Eminenza, I recall the work you did for the International Theological Committee in the 1990's."  Cardinal Dulles kissed the papal ring and smiled back at the Pope.

When the Pope greeted me, I introduced myself as "Sister Anne-Marie Kirmse, O.P., Cardinal Dulles's assistant at Fordham for the past 20 years."  The Pope smiled and said, "Twenty years...that's a long time. How wonderful!"  I moved over the lanyard holding my security badge so that I could point to the Dominican Cross on my jacket.  I told the Pope that I am a member of the Dominican Sisters of Amityville, New York, and that our congregation came to the United States from Heileg Kreuz in Regensburg.  The Pope smiled broadly and said " many years of prayer.."  Thinking he was referring to Regensburg, I replied, "Yes, Holy Father, 750 years," (I was off by 25 years).  He furrowed his brow a little as if he was thinking deeply and said, "The Dominican Order...over 800 years of prayer and service to the Church.  Thank God for the Dominicans."  Spurred on by this personal conversation,  I then told him that my grandmother, Freida Galm, came from Baden.  "Ya, Baden," the Pope answered and a look of recognition passed over his face as if he were seeing his homeland.  The entire time the Pope was speaking with me, he looked straight at me, and held my hands in his.  He was even more warm and friendly in person than he was on television.  His eyes sparkled as he spoke.

Before leaving, the Pope blessed Cardinal Dulles, assuring him of his prayers for the Cardinal, and encouraged him in his sufferings.  He then said good-bye in turn to each of the persons who accompanied Cardinal Dulles.  When he came to me, the Pope said, "Sister, thank you for all the work you do for Cardinal Dulles and for the Church..

It is a never to be forgotten experience.

Anne-Marie Kirmse, OP (Amityville)


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