00 6/11/2009 3:37 AM

One modest 'Benaddiction' I wish for - if only we could have one 'light' or anecdotal story about our beloved Holy Father for every four of so-called 'hard news' stories! In the meantime, let us give thanks for the 'Benaddictions' we do get.....

Texas girl meets the Pope
thanks to 'Make a Wish'

By Elaine Ayala and Lauren M. Sanchez

June 10, 2009

Alyssa Treviño is usually chatty, bubbling over with enthusiasm and the loudest person in the room. But on Wednesday in Rome, the 19-year-old sophomore from St. Mary's University was probably at a loss for words — at least momentarily — when she met the man who leads the world's Catholics.

Though she could not be reached for comment, the photograph of Pope Benedict XVI greeting the young Harlingen native, who is smiling broadly, tells it all. Her parish priest Father Tom Pincelli of Harlingen's St. Anthony Catholic Church calls it “a masterful smile.”

“You will not find a more courageous young lady as this girl,” he added.

Treviño, who was born with heart problems, once faced a life-threatening illness, but received open-heart surgery at 13 that saved her life.

Wednesday's meeting with the Pontiff was the culmination of a wish she made more than four years ago, when the late John Paul II still reigned over the Church. It was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Rio Grande Valley.

Like the national organization, the local chapter strives to grant “life-affirming wishes rather than last wishes.” Overall, the group has funded almost 178,000 requests, ranging from world travel to meeting celebrities.

Sarah Clunie, a nurse at the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, where Treviño was treated as a child, nominated her for the wish.

Treviño is often reluctant to tell people about her childhood, described as one filled with one medication after another. “I want people to know me for who I am,” she said earlier this spring.

She's now majoring in biology and wants to become a pediatric cardiologist, so she can treat children similarly afflicted.

In April, Treviño also told a reporter that her family is close-knit. “They've gone through the same stuff I've gone through, because they've always been there,” she said.

They accompanied her to Rome, too. Make-A-Wish flew her father Albert, a Border Patrol agent, there, along with her mother Edna, who works at a dental office in Harlingen, and her younger brother Danny, a high school student. Treviño was hoping to visit the city's major sites, including the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

Back home, many well-wishers were cheering her on.

“I hope she has a life-changing event, that it was everything she wanted,” said Bryan E. Burke, an accountant on the Harlingen Make-A-Wish board.

Father Pincelli said he hoped the papal meeting would “add to the strength she already has.”

Every Wednesday, thousands of people gather in Vatican City for the pope's weekly audience, an event held in the 6,300-person capacity Paul VI Audience Hall [Note to the newwriters: Only in the cold months, or in really bad weather. Otherwise, it's in St. peter's Square, as it was today.]
Before leaving, she said she didn't know what she'd say if she got the chance to meet the Pope. “I think I'll probably be really scared, and I might cry.”

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/12/2009 2:48 AM]