Pope blesses cornerstone of new USC church
A little more than a week ago, a slab of rock that will someday make the cornerstone of USC‚Äôs new Our Savior Parish made its way through St. Peter‚Äôs Square in Vatican City on a forklift.
The cornerstone was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in a brief ceremony attended by USC trustees, alumni and friends, including Kathryn Sample and Father Lawrence Seyer, the director of the USC Catholic Center.
The ceremony capped off an eight-day trip to the Vatican, which included a meeting with the rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University and lunch with the American ambassador.
Seyer said the high point of the trip was the papal blessing, which he called ‚Äúvery special.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHe sort of takes your breath away,‚ÄĚ Seyer said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs one thing to meet somebody who‚Äôs so well known, but he gives you his full attention, which is amazing. He spent his time with you as though you were the only person there.‚ÄĚ
Seyer said that though he had seen Pope John Paul II from afar, this was his first papal meeting.
‚ÄúYou just felt as though you were in the presence of a holy person,‚ÄĚ he said.
The trip comes on the heels of several years of fundraising for USC‚Äôs new church and Catholic center, which Seyer says will hopefully break ground later this year. As of last fall, $28 million of the estimated $35 million in costs had been raised ‚ÄĒ with $6 million coming from USC alumnus and developer Rick Caruso.
The new Catholic church and student center will be located on the corner of 32nd and Hoover streets in the same location as the current facility, which was built in 1957.
The center will house a student library, study areas, courtyards and a student union. With more than 10,000 Catholic students attending USC, Seyer said he hopes the new center can be a point of meeting for Catholic Trojans.
‚ÄúThere are many students from all over the world coming to USC, and we see this pope as a symbol of the universality of the Church,‚ÄĚ Seyer said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs sort of neat to have the pope‚Äôs blessing as a sign for how this church can be a welcome place for USC students from all over the world, something that‚Äôs unique about this university.‚ÄĚ