New London woman to attend papal mass
Solberg witnessing first canonization on U.S. soil
By Scott Bellile
For most Catholics, seeing the pope in person would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
For New London resident Camille Solberg, that’s now becoming a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Solberg, a 1990 Catholic University of America graduate, will join a crowd of 25,000 people attending a papal mass at her alma mater in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Sept. 23.
She’ll witness Pope Francis perform the first canonization on U.S. soil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
“It’s a humbling experience. I’m definitely looking forward to being there,” Solberg said.
As a native of Puerto Rico, Solberg was invited by the university along with other Hispanic American alumni because Pope Francis will canonize 18th-century Spanish friar Junipero Serra in a Spanish-language ceremony.
What Solberg most enjoys about Pope Francis’s tenure is his devotion to Hispanic outreach.
“I think his soul is very much Hispanic,” Solberg said.
Solberg’s first papal encounter was when she was a child. Her father took her and her brother to see Pope John Paul II deliver a mass in Italian from his window at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
“I picked up very little,” Solberg said.
Now that she is older and speaks the language the pope will use, Solberg said she is excited to comprehend the spiritual concepts more deeply. Her ultimate hope is to bring home an experience she can share with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“Now as an adult I’m going to be able to really enjoy, and not only enjoy, but also understand how meaningful these opportunities really are,” Solberg said.
Solberg said she hopes Pope Francis will learn on his first U.S. visit that despite some people leaving the Catholic Church, there are still strong numbers of Americans who allow Jesus to guide them.