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Receiving a Special Gift on One Special Weekend




he first things Keith Beaver ’08 noticed about Pope Francis when meeting the pontiff during his September 2015 visit to Philadelphia were his eyes and his smile.

“There is something truly special about him,” remembers Beaver. “When I was in his presence, I felt I was in the presence of Christ.” Beaver was among the special few that weekend who were close enough to Pope Francis to be able to make those assessments. As a seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo, where the pope stayed, Beaver stood at the entrance with his classmates and sang a greeting. He got his chance to get even closer on Sunday. “I was last in line as the pope came in, and I shook his hand,” says Beaver. “I said, ‘God bless you, Holy Father,’ and he asked me to pray for him. I was so taken aback, I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I just said I would.”

Keith Beaver ’08 as a young student and a seminarian.

As the Theology Division Master of Ceremonies, Beaver also is involved with special masses and other events, and so he also served at Sunday’s Mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Keith Beaver ’08 serving at Pope Francis’ mass on the Parkway in September.

“There were a million people on the Parkway and not a sound. How is that even possible?” he asks. “Everyone was totally in the moment. It was a life-changing weekend in many ways. I’m very blessed.”

(field work in parishes) and human formation (growing in your own personhood). Along with 15 credits of classroom work per semester, he spends one day a week teaching or doing pastoral work.

The self-proclaimed “huge sports fan,” who started a roller hockey club on campus, balances out his studies and field work by either playing or watching sports.

“I believe that Pope Francis coming to our seminary while I am still there was a complete gift for me,” says Beaver. “Seminary can be difficult, and I felt it was God affirming this is where I’m supposed to be. I feel the gift was clear and I hope the grace that I received over the weekend continues. I know it fades over time, but I can still feel it.”

Beaver majored in English communications at CHC and worked for the Please Touch Museum and an educational group called Generation Life for a time after graduation and then entered the seminary in 2011. He has nearly two years left in the program before he will be ordained, and he plans to stay in the area and work with the Philadelphia archdiocese. Beaver explains the structure of the seminary, where he takes classes in the four pillars of formation — spiritual, intellectual, pastoral


Beaver adds that one of the biggest messages that was clear from the pope and from his aides is that the pope is not a celebrity, and he cautions people not to fall into that trap. “His role and his mission are directly from Jesus. That is who he is.”

Chestnut Hill Magazine, Spring 2016  
Chestnut Hill Magazine, Spring 2016