Brighton attorney Gerry DiMarco and his wife, Christine, were able to get an up-close look at Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush during the April 16 ceremony that welcomed the pontiff to the White House during his visit to the United States.
Gerry DiMarco, who had been involved with President Bush’s transition team as he entered office, said he and his wife were part of a group of about 100 who were invited to sit in an area right behind seats occupied by Vice President Dick Cheney and other dignitaries.
“At first we thought we would be in a huge crowd; they were expecting 13,000,” he said.
Though thousands did show up, the DiMarcos, who attend St. Thomas More Church, were only about 30 feet away from the podium.
Gerry DiMarco said the pope’s message of hope and joy resonated with the crowd, and he said the president did a great job as well in addressing those gathered.
“It was a very rewarding experience,” he said.
DiMarco said the pope came across as reasoned and prayerful.
“He’s very conscientious as the leader of all people — not just Catholics,” DiMarco said. “He’s a leader who can make a difference for everyone.”
At night, the DiMarcos also attended a White House dinner — which featured a variety of Bavarian food — in honor of the pope’s 81st birthday. The pontiff, however, could not make the event because he was addressing the U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.