NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With the Pope set to retire on Thursday, people around the world are sharing their memories of Benedict XVI’s time as head of the Catholic church, including those here in the New York City area.
In April of 2008, roughly 25,000 young people and seminarians roared every time Pope Benedict raised his arms as he visited St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.
They chanted “Benedito” and waved yellow and white handkerchiefs, the papal colors.
Father Michael Morris, archivist for the New York Archdiocese said St. Joseph’s Seminary was chosen for good reason.
“I think he was continuing blessed John Paul II’s legacy about really reaching out to young people and the need for vocation to the priests that especially having this venue in a seminary location, in a seminary venue, and the need to reach out to young people as not necessarily the future because young people are an integral part of the church as they are,” Morris told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
The Pope blessed disabled children and shook the hands of seminarians and then spoke of his own youth, growing up during the horrors of Nazism, which he called a monster.
“It was really interesting, the way he spoke about his experiences growing up in that very very challenging time in 20th Century history,” Morris said.
Morris also said the Pope’s appearance was electrifying.
“Here we have the scholar Pope – great writer, great theologian – and really, the young people, they were so enthused and so happy and we had singers, and I think Kelly Clarkson was singing that day and it was really something,” he said. “The Holy Father seemed to be really enjoying himself and probably was a little mystified in some ways because I don’t think he would have expected this.”
To this day, the Pope’s presence is felt there. 20 years earlier, as is the custom, the visiting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger planted a tree on the grounds.