Summer 2015

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SJC’s Place in History: Retrospect on the Papal Visit

Written & Compiled by Liza Darvin

One month ago today, on Tuesday, September 22, the papal jet touched down in Washington, DC, marking the start of Pope Francis’ landmark trip to the United States. Even with the tremendous volume of broadcasts, articles, and other media that lead up to, covered, and reflected on the trip, Saint Joseph’s College, in its capacity as an institution based in the Mercy tradition, helped shape the conversation surrounding the papal proceedings. Below, a recap of the ways in which the College and its community members were engaged in the pope’s US tour.

  • On Tuesday, September 22, the day Pope Francis began his first visit to the US, theology professor Dan Sheridan participated on the panel for MPBN's Maine Calling to discuss Francis' papacy. The archived show can be listened to by visiting MPBN’s website here.
  • Representatives of MPBN also stopped by Saint Joseph's Standish campus preceding the pope's arrival to America in order to get students’ perspectives on the history-making trip. The pope, who has earned a reputation for his modern approach to controversial social and political issues, is credited with helping to bring lapsed Catholics back into the fold, particularly those belonging to the millennial generation. The resulting MPBN article can be found online here.
  • Two SJC online theology faculty members, Fr. Fran Donio and Dr. Susan Timoney, hosted over 28 hours of online live-stream video coverage of papal events for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The archived videos with their commentary are available for viewing on the USCCB’s website here.
  • On Wednesday, September 23, Pope Francis paid a short visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor community in Washington, DC. Among the members interviewed by the National Catholic Register was Sister Constance Veit ’13, communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor and graduate of the College’s online theology program. Read the article detailing the visit here.
  • On Sunday, September 27, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop at the “Mary, Undoer of Knots” grotto art instillation in front of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was greeted by Sister Mary Scullion, RSM, of Project Home and volunteers. Sr. Scullion has deep ties to Saint Joseph’s College; beyond the connection as a Sister of Mercy, Sr. Scullion was selected to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the College. She also tapped Joanne Bean, vice president and chief advancement officer to the College, to join the Mercy & Justice Committee during the planning stages for the pope’s visit. Philly.com chronicled Sr. Scullion’s interaction with Pope Francis in an article that can be viewed here.
  • Carmina Chapp, associate director of the College’s online theology programs, recently had the opportunity to represent the College at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during Pope Francis’ historic visit. She also attended the Papal Mass from the Ben Franklin Parkway, which concluded the pope’s visit. Read her recollections here
  • Saint Joseph’s was among 169 Catholic colleges and universities to publicly pledge support for the pope’s message on climate change and social justice as presented in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. The full story can be found on the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s website here.
  • In recognition of the fact that Pope Francis has declared a Holy Year of Mercy, a Jubilee year that is overflowing with significance for Saint Joseph's College, the College created a special papal magazine in order to demonstrate how Saint Joseph’s mission aligns with pope's message of mercy, compassion, and sustainability. Digitally flip through the article here.