April 14, 2006

Terre Haute teens offer birthday greetings
to Benedict XVI

By Mary Ann Wyand

Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate his 79th birthday on Easter at the Vatican.

The pope is expected to receive birthday greetings by mail and e-mail from Catholics around the world this weekend.

In his 1998 book titled Milestones, a collection of memoirs about the first 50 years of his life, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote that he was born in Marktl am Inn, Germany, on April 16, 1927, which was Holy Saturday that year, and was baptized that day in the newly blessed waters.

Last year, the former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was elected the 265th pope on April 19—three days after his 78th birthday—and his inaugural Mass was held on April 24.

Three teenagers who are members of St. Benedict Parish in Terre Haute are among countless Catholics offering birthday greetings for the pontiff.

The teens are active in the combined St. Ann, St. Benedict and Sacred Heart of Jesus youth group in Terre Haute.

Terre Haute North High School senior Mark Elliott, whose family has been members of St. Benedict Parish for five generations, said he would like to wish Pope Benedict a happy birthday and “God’s blessings today and always.”

If he could, Mark said, he would remind the pope that, “God has given you this day. Receive it with eagerness. Treat it kindly. Share it with joy.”

He also would tell the pontiff that, “God bless you at this happy time in his most gracious way, and send his gifts of love and joy to fill your heart today. You have such a special way of blessing others, shining for Jesus and being gracious. I pray the Lord sends all of that goodness into your life today, and I hope it’s only the beginning of another year filled with his blessings.”

Mark said the tri-parish youth group, coordinated by longtime youth minister Janet Roth of Terre Haute, has “done many [Church and community service] projects … like food baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the less fortunate around Terre Haute.”

Terre Haute North senior and St. Benedict parishioner Anna Claretto said “the best thing I could offer him would be to stay involved in my Church, stay committed with my youth group and continue helping others.”

St. Benedict parishioner Jenny Joy, a sophomore at Terre Haute North High School, said when youths donate their time and talents to help others “it’s also a gift to God.”

If she could, Jenny said, she would give Pope Benedict the gift of knowledge to help him with all his responsibilities as the spiritual leader of the international Roman Catholic Church.

“It was hard replacing Pope John Paul II,” she said, “and he’s doing a great job. I hope he will have many more years.”

(William H. Sadlier Inc., the oldest family-owned publishing company in America, is sponsoring free electronic birthday cards for Pope Benedict XVI. The birthday greeting project is endorsed by the National Catholic Educational Association and National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. To send an electronic birthday card to the pope, log on to Sadlier’s Web site at www.webelieveweb.com.)


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