New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan delivers the invocation before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s swearing-in as the country’s 45th president at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Three seminarians from the Diocese of Rockville Centre attended the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump Jan. 20, thanks to help from their representative in Congress.

John Crozier, Kieran Maelia and Paul Clores were offered tickets by Rep. Peter King, R-New York, who is close friends with a priest-mentor for the trio. The priest could not make it to Washington, but he suggested King offer the tickets to the seminarians.

Thus, for the cost of gas, tolls along Interstate 95 and a quick meal at a rest stop, Crozier, Maelia and Clores got to see the inauguration from what Crozier estimated was a distance of two football fields from Trump. The trio saved money by staying at Theological College in Washington.

Despite being seminarians, they went incognito, according to Crozier, 23. “Shirts and ties. It’ll be a little tense out there. If we’re not at ecclesial events, we don’t wear our collars.”

Their first moment of tension, Crozier told Catholic News Service, came not long after they emerged from a subway station. “We ran into some protesters. They had D.C.-area police closely monitoring the situation. They said if they notice any tension or violence, they were on top of it,” he said. “We turned the corner and they let us into the secured area before there was any physical contact.” The protesters, he added were expressing their views about the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for terrorism suspects, and the Palestinian statehood cause.

Crozier said he heard further unrest when, during the presidential oath, some people in his section chanted, “Not fit for office.” And soon after Trump started speaking, he added, a few people used whistles to try to drown out the president.

The seminarians didn’t spot anyone they knew in the throng, but they went to King’s office afterward to thank him for his generosity in giving them the tickets. “He was very friendly, very gracious,” Crozier said. “He asked us how we were doing, The fact that we were seminarians, the fact that we know a priest that he’s close with — he wanted us to have that experience.”

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail