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As part of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Pontifical North American College, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a gathering of cardinals, bishops, priests, students and friends of the College on January 9, 2010. The PNAC was founded by Blessed Pius IX.

I am pleased to welcome the alumni of the Pontifical North
American College, together with the Rector, faculty and students of the
seminary on the Janiculum hill, and the student priests of the Casa Santa Maria
dell’Umiltà. Our meeting comes at the conclusion of the celebrations marking
the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the College’s establishment by my
predecessor, Blessed Pius IX. On this happy occasion I willingly join you in
thanking the Lord for the many ways in which the College has remained faithful
to its founding vision by training generations of worthy preachers of the
Gospel and ministers of the sacraments, devoted to the Successor of Peter and
committed to the building up of the Church in the United States of America.

is appropriate, in this Year for Priests, that you have returned to the College
and this Eternal City in order to give thanks for the academic and spiritual
formation which has nourished your priestly ministry over the years. The
present Reunion is an opportunity not only to remember with gratitude the time
of your studies, but also to reaffirm your filial affection for the Church of
Rome, to recall the apostolic labors of the countless alumni who have gone
before you, and to recommit yourselves to the high ideals of holiness, fidelity
and pastoral zeal which you embraced on the day of your ordination
. It is
likewise an occasion to renew your love for the College and your appreciation
of its distinctive mission to the Church in your country.

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During my Pastoral
Visit to the United States, I expressed my conviction that the Church in
is called to cultivate “an intellectual ‘culture’ which is
genuinely Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and
prepared to bring the richness of faith’s vision to bear on the pressing issues
which affect the future of American society”
(Homily at Nationals Stadium,
Washington, 17 April 2008). As Blessed Pius IX rightly foresaw, the Pontifical
North American College in Rome is uniquely prepared to help meet this perennial
challenge. In the century and a half since its foundation, the College has
offered its students an exceptional experience of the universality of the
Church, the breadth of her intellectual and spiritual tradition, and the
urgency of her mandate to bring Christ’s saving truth to the men and women of
every time and place
. I am confident that, by emphasizing these hallmarks of a
Roman education in every aspect of its program of formation, the College will
continue to produce wise and generous pastors capable of transmitting the
Catholic faith in its integrity, bringing Christ’s infinite mercy to the weak
and the lost, and enabling America’s Catholics to be a leaven of the Gospel in
the social, political and cultural life of their nation.

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Dear brothers, I pray
that in these days you will be renewed in the gift of the Holy Spirit which you
received on the day of your ordination. In the College chapel, dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady is
portrayed in the company of four outstanding models and patrons of priestly
life and ministry: Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Pius X, Saint John Mary
Vianney and Saint Vincent de Paul
. During this Year for Priests, may these
great saints continue to watch over the students who daily pray in their midst;
may they guide and sustain your own ministry, and intercede for the priests of
the United States. With cordial good wishes for the spiritual fruitfulness of
the coming days, and with great affection in the Lord, I impart to you my
Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to all the alumni and friends of
the Pontifical North American College.