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 CNS Story:

POPE-VIGIL Apr-19-2008 (260 words) xxxi

Young adults holding vigil rewarded with papal handshake

By Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Several hundred young adults holding a vigil behind the security perimeter around the house where Pope Benedict XVI was staying were rewarded April 18 with a papal handshake.

Helen Osman, director of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said more than 1,000 people had gathered throughout the evening near the residence of the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations.

Members of the Sisters of Life, a religious order founded by the late Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York, organized young people from three New York parishes to keep a vigil at the residence where Pope Benedict was staying.

"Some just came out of curiosity," but there also were members of the Legionaries of Christ, playing guitars and beating drums, and members of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal and Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, she said.

Obviously, Osman said, they had let archdiocesan officials know of their plans and at about 8 p.m., the U.S. Secret Service began allowing small groups to pass the traffic blockade and approach the residence.

Pope Benedict came outside "after dinner" at about 9 p.m., said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

The pope spent about 10 minutes shaking hands with the young religious and other young adults who got the Secret Service nod.

They sang "Happy Birthday" to the pope; he waved to them and to a small group of media that had staked out the residence, then he went back inside.

END


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