From Dickinson to the Vatican: Mass with the PopeTwo young men will get a very special Christmas gift this year. Dickinson residents Austin Holgard and Dominic Bouck will spend two hours with Pope Benedict XVI during the midnight Christmas Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Two young men will get a very special Christmas gift this year. Dickinson residents Austin Holgard and Dominic Bouck will spend two hours with Pope Benedict XVI during the midnight Christmas Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
“It’s pretty surreal right now,” Bouck said Friday from Rome. “It’s just beyond what I ever hoped for.”
Bouck and Holgard, who are seminarians through the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., as seniors, are spending the semester abroad at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Bouck said it is a tradition for seminarians to serve with the pope for Mass, but he and Holgard said they never thought they would be serving Christmas Mass with the pope.
“His ideas have become very real to me just in the fact that a small-town kid has the opportunity to serve for his Holiness,” Holgard said.
Bouck and Holgard graduated from Trinity High School in 2008. THS Superintendent Kelly Koppinger said the opportunity is a prestigious honor.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had anybody who has had that close of contact with the pope, other than priests and the bishop of our diocese,” he said.
Rev. Joshua Ehli, who is a religion teacher at THS, said there will be hundreds of millions of people watching the Mass live on television. Audiences watching should be able to see Holgard and Bouck clearly.
“It’s one of the most famous and most televised events at the Vatican,” he said. “It’s such an honor for all of us in western North Dakota, Catholic and non-Catholic. Just to say one of our own is assisting the pope is just a tremendous gift to us.”
Bouck said that Christmas is important for the world, and to spend the night with the pope is a beautiful gift.
“The whole world just stops for Christmas,” he said. “The joy of remembering that Jesus Christ was born is so essential.”
Holgard added that by serving with the pope, he will have a connection between him and the rest of the world.
“In the light of the Church, everyone is continuously joining together in prayer, whether it is in Africa or North Dakota,” he said. “Just
the reality that I am going to be able to
share into that at the head of the church is really powerful.”
Bouck said it is hard being away from his family during Christmas, but he said he knows his family supports him and are excited to watch him participate in the event, even if it is more than 5,000 miles away.
“The hierarchy of the Church is a beautiful gift, and to meet the man whom the Holy Spirit has placed at the helm of the Church is incredible,” he said. “Seeing the 234th successor of St. Peter has been the greatest highlight of this semester.”
EWTN will broadcast the Mass at 2 p.m. today. The mass will be re-aired on the same channel Sunday at 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.