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Duquesne Students, Staff to Witness Historic Visit of Pope Francis

Thirty-five Duquesne University students, traveling with members of the Spiritan Campus Ministry staff, will be among those witnessing the historic first visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. In addition, four Duquesne journalism and multimedia undergraduates have been credentialed to cover the papal visit as part of a class with Mike Clark, adjunct instructor and WTAE-TV reporter.

The trip is important for students because they have both the rare opportunity to see the leader of the Catholic Church and to be immersed in a celebration embracing some of the same global and social issues that are at the forefront of Duquesne's institutional mission, said the Rev. William Christy, C.S.Sp., who is leading the Spiritan Campus Ministry group.

"Pope Francis has energized our youth, encouraged them to be boisterous and to live out their faith," Christy said. "We want our students to be in Philadelphia, hearing and embracing the pope's message and returning with an excitement to live it every day."

Junior Nicholas Hudak, a finance major in the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business, shares how this trip involves both a momentous public occasion and personal reflection.

"To see the pope in the United States isn't just exciting-it's historic," said Hudak, who lives in Monongahela. "My joy to spend time in our Holy Father's presence cannot be expressed in words. Instead, I will spend the next weeks in silent prayer for the occasion."

Junior Emily Stock of Pleasant Hills, one of the student journalists, shared, "The experience is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me both professionally and spiritually."

Stock and the other student journalists, working on a project for Clark's class, are traveling to Philadelphia with pilgrims from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, will attend the Canonization Mass of St. Junipero Serra in Washington, D.C., then return to Philadelphia to cover the World Meeting of Families.

Clark and Dr. Dennis Woytek, assistant professor of journalism and multimedia arts, previously helped DU students to gain the major news experience of covering a papal visit in 2008 and look forward to a similar experience for the current students documenting Pope Francis' first U.S. visit.

"In 2008, the students worked alongside local, national and international journalists, and on occasion, they collaborated with these fellow journalists," Clark said. "They were interviewed by FOX News and CNN live on the air, and I think, more than anything, they know they can do the job as a working journalist.

Clark applauded Dr. James Swindal, dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, for his hand in making this independent study course a reality. "He really wants the women to have a great experience because it's all about the Duquesne mission of serving, to explore your faith, to explore other people's faiths, to come together as a team to learn about this pope and learn about his messages," Clark says. "I think that's really in line with what DU's mission is all about.

"Regardless of what the kids do when they graduate," says Clark, "they'll keep this experience in their hearts forever."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.