The Conclave to elect the next Holy Father began March 12, 2013, with the celebration of Mass for the cardinal-electors at St. Peter’s Basilica. Most of the eleven U.S. cardinals who are members of the Conclave have been staying at the Pontifical North American College (PNAC), which is the seminary for men in formation for the Priesthood from dioceses throughout the United States.
The Diocese of Raleigh has two men enrolled in the PNAC: Timothy Ahn and Michael Schuetz. Diocesan Vocations Director Fr. Ned Shlesinger is also in Rome at this time, making his annual visit with the seminarians.
In an email, Timothy said the seminarians attended the morning Mass. “I can tell you that it was one of the truly unique experiences of my life. We have read and heard so much about these men, and to see them all processing in to St. Peter's, and being able to identify the ones who are reportedly on the short list for the papacy, was really special.”
Timothy explained that the NAC students lined up along the street that the American Cardinals were passing through to the Conclave and applauded them on their way. “It really felt as though we were sending them on a mission to represent the Church in America with their votes and with their presences during this momentous time in the history of the Church throughout the world,” Timothy said.
He added that the atmosphere during the Mass was “celebratory and hopeful.” He said, “There was none of the sadness that was in the air during the final public Mass of Pope Benedict. Instead, there was some definite electricity knowing that one of these men who were processing right in front of us will be the Pope in a matter of a few days. What a wonderful rush of excitement and anticipation for a Church so ready for it now!”
Above: Seminarians wave as a bus carrying U.S. cardinals leaves the Pontifical North American College in Rome for the Vatican March 12. Cardinals from around the globe gathered for Mass in St. Peter's Basilica before processing into the Sistine Chapel for the conclave to elect the next pope. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Diocesan Vocations Director Fr. Ned Shlesinger and Seminarian Timothy Ahn are pictured on the left midway in the photo.