Making a Pitch to the Pope

By Jenna Johnson and Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 22, 2007

St. Mary's County officials hope someday one of Washington, D.C.'s big-name, international visitors will add St. Clements Island to their sightseeing itinerary.

Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth II gracefully declined an invitation, but that didn't deter Sen. Roy P. Dyson (D-St. Mary's) from extending the county's latest invite to Pope Benedict XVI, who is scheduled to visit Washington and New York in April.

With just a quick helicopter ride, the leader of the Vatican could see the small island where two vessels -- the Ark and the Dove -- landed with 140 predominantly Catholic pilgrims in 1634. The Rev. Andrew White, a Jesuit priest, assembled the new colonists after landing March 25 and conducted what is thought to be the first Catholic Mass in the colonies, Dyson explained in a letter to Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl.

"It would be great if he could say a Mass there," Dyson said of the pope. "We really just want him to step foot on the island. But if he could say Mass, that would be great."

The perks of visiting the island extend beyond Catholicism, Dyson explained in the letter: "April is a beautiful time of year here, and I believe that he would enjoy some of Southern Maryland's finest seafood." Plus, Dyson promised he could arrange security for a papal visit.

"An island is a very easy thing to protect," he said in an interview. "That's why the pilgrims landed there."

Despite the island's deep roots in Catholic and Maryland history, Dyson said he has not yet heard from the pontiff.

"I think -- no, I am sure -- probably a lot of different groups are making a pitch," Dyson said. "Nothing he will see in Baltimore or D.C. will be as historical as this."

Pepco Power Line Meeting

Forty Calvert County residents attended a four-hour open house regarding a proposed 230-mile interstate power line, a portion of which runs through the county.

Representatives from Pepco Holdings seemingly pounced on people as they entered the Prince Frederick Holiday Inn meeting rooms for the evening session Nov. 14, offering to explain the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway project -- a $1 billion line that would carry 500-kilovolts from Northern Virginia, across Southern Maryland, under the Chesapeake Bay to southern New Jersey.

As the Washington metropolitan region grows, more power is needed, and some power plants are set to retire, officials said.

Several Calvert County commissioners said they were not pleased with the way the meeting had been announced and publicized by Pepco.

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