National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

A Blessed Meeting

Facts of Life: One student's meeting with Benedict XVI

BY The Editors

Oct. 6-19, 2013 Issue | Posted 10/2/13 at 9:48 AM

 

Peter Srsich had to undergo grueling chemotherapy and radiation for non-Hodgkins lymphoma as a high-school student. "But today at 19, Srsich is in remission, again active in athletics at Regis University, a Jesuit college in Denver, and on the path to the priesthood," TheDenverChannel.com, the website of Denver’s ABC 7 affiliate, reported last month.

"He thanks his doctors for his physical recovery, but he credits his spiritual rebound to one of the most unusual and logistically complicated requests ever asked of the Make-A-Wish Foundation — to meet the Pope."

"I would have been perfectly fine if I just got a tour of the Vatican," the student said of his wish.

But Srsich, his parents and his brother flew to Rome in May 2012, where Pope Benedict blessed the teen.

After listening to a papal audience, the young man met Pope Benedict. "I am standing like the little drummer boy, with nothing to offer," he recalled. "There were golden crowns and a 4-foot-tall magnificent painting of Mary, and I am sitting there with a 70-cent rubber wristband" — one his friend had made. (One of his classmates created wristbands that read "Praying for Peter." People around the world prayed, noting the Bible verse on the bands: Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.")

During their two-minute time together, Srsich told Benedict about his cancer and asked for a blessing.

"He looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you speak English?’ and put his hand on my chest right where the tumor had been, even though I had not mentioned it to him," he said. "The blessing is usually on the head."

Srsich said he was "in awe of how humble he was."

Now, he is on track to be ordained in about eight years’ time.

"I credit all the years of medical research and the training of all the doctors going to school — all that definitely cured me," the young man said. "But God was behind it, helping me go through the treatment."