DUBUQUE, Iowa - Pope Benedict's announcement came as shock to Father Brian Dellaert. The Dubuque priest spent time with Pope Benedict at seminary in Rome.
From the comfort of his living room, Father Brian Dellaert recalls meeting then Cardinal Ratsinger almost ten years ago.
"As somebody who was studying theology to meet such an intelligent author and thinker, was exciting," Fr. Dellaert said.
It was Thanksgiving Day, 2004 when Dellaert and friend attended a mass in Rome. After mass the friends met with the Cardinal.
"He was also remarkably humble. He never traveled with an entourage. He was simple when walking the streets of Rome."
A few months later Delleart joined the thousands of people in the square, and watched the newly elected Pope greet the crowd.
"To see him come and take that on, even at his age was a moment of great joy and excitement for not only the city of Rome but the whole world. "
While there is a sense of sadness in learning of the Pope's resignation, Dellaert says he's once again felling anticipation and excitement.
"I think you'll need somebody of great learning. I think you need someone of great holiness and has abilities with languages," Delleart said.
Until then, Fr. Dellaert will hold close the memories of his brush with the man who meant so much to so many.