April 11, 2023

Spring is a beautiful time of year at The Catholic University of America. The cherry blossoms have bloomed, students are graduating, and we celebrate Easter. It is a season that fills us with new life, energy, and joy.

My wife Nancy and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the campus as it springs to life with activities. We continue to be in awe of our students, faculty, and staff who call the University home for learning and work. They are dedicated, loyal, and fiercely committed to our community!

No person exemplifies what it means to be a Cardinal better than Ms. Willie Joyner. An employee at the University for nearly 50 years, Ms. Willie, as she is known, is full of exuberance, love, and tenderness. You see it in her smile and you certainly feel it in her hugs. She has been a motherly figure to thousands of students during her five decades of service. They come to her for support, encouragement, and a kind word. I have had the good fortune of getting to know her and I am inspired by her devotion to our students and to her faith. She is a transformational leader. I hope you enjoy her story in this issue.

Another beautiful story in this issue is the one on the late Pope Benedict XVI. The story is filled with loving memories of people’s interactions with “Papa,” especially during the time he visited Catholic University in 2008. When he was here he spoke in the Great Rooms in the Pryz about the importance of Catholic education. There is a marker outside of the room as a reminder of his appearance. As you will read, his legacy in the Church is tied to Catholic education and learning about our faith. So it is fitting that the stories from students in particular are about the impact he had in shaping their lives — while at the University and beyond.

I was thrilled and edified to be on hand for the Opus Prize events hosted here on campus. It was the second time that the University hosted the annual faith-based humanitarian honors — and the first time any higher education institution had hosted it twice. I was so honored to present the 2022 Opus Prize to Mack McCarter, the founder of Community Renewal International. In addition to the recognition, Mr. McCarter received $1 million to continue his work in the United States to revitalize communities. Students also benefited from the Opus Prize competition being held on campus as they became involved in a variety of activities that I am confident will inspire more changemakers.

These three stories are just a sample of what you will find in these pages. I hope that they bring back many great memories of your time at the University as well as inspire you to talk up the school with your friends and loved ones.

As I complete my first full year at the University, I am filled with gratitude to be at such an inspiring and historic institution. For 136 years, our University has served as a beacon of light, providing a world-class education to thousands of students while also providing them with the moral compass they need, as our founder Pope Leo XIII said, “to serve the Church and the nation.” 

These words are not lost on me. I look forward to working with our University community to carry out this charge, continuing the building of an institution whose greatest days lie ahead.

Dr. Peter K. Kilpatrick
President of The Catholic University of America