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Loyola University New Orleans celebrates Pope Francis' visit to the U.S.

Loyola press release - September 23, 2015

Loyola joins Catholics across the nation ― and 28 Jesuit colleges― with a “pope-watching” party, celebrated in New Orleans style.

Loyola University New Orleans will join 28 Jesuit colleges and universities and Catholics from around the U.S. on Thursday, with an official “pope-watching” party, as Pope Francis makes his historic address to a joint session of the United States Congress. Campus ministry at Loyola has ensured that the monumental event ― which coincides with Loyola’s Family Weekend ― is a joyous occasion celebrated on campus in true New Orleans style. Already the event is affectionately known on campus as Pope-a-Palooza.

Loyola will celebrate with a live broadcast of the pope’s address to Congress on Thursday, September 24, at 9 a.m. outside of Starbucks in the Danna Center, Loyola’s student center on main campus; and a re-broadcast of the address that same day at 12:45 p.m. in the Danna Center’s Saint Charles Room.

The latter event will feature Papal Bingo, including chances to win prizes, and commentary by local faculty experts following the speech, including Roger White, dean of the College of Social Sciences and an associate professor of political science, who will speak briefly about the political implications of the address. Loyola will have a Twitter wall at both events and an opportunity for students to live tweet using the hashtags #loynopopealooza and #Pope2Congress and proudly celebrating the fact that they are #JesuitEducated.

Campus ministry at Loyola New Orleans has also ensured a little fun. All who attend the daily 12 p.m. mass at St. Ignatius Chapel at Loyola are invited to follow Francis in his Popemobile from the chapel to the St. Charles Room in the Danna Center. Students are also encouraged to be on the lookout for sightings of Pope Francis throughout the campus, which will be posted on Mission and Ministry’s Facebook page.

“As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Loyola University New Orleans is especially excited to welcome Pope Francis, the first-ever Jesuit pope, to the United States and to celebrate his messages of mercy toward our neighbors, justice for the poor and oppressed of the world, and responsible environmental stewardship of our common home,” said John Sebastian, vice president for Mission and Ministry at Loyola New Orleans.

More than 30,000 people across the country will participate in “Pope2Congress” watch parties when Pope Francis delivers his Congressional address Sept. 24. The Pope2Congress campaign was created by the Ignatian Solidarity Network to generate excitement about Francis’s address to a joint session of Congress, the first ever by a pope. More than 325 parties have been registered in 34 states across U.S. and as far away as Rome, Italy, according to ISN program director Kim Miller. She says an estimated 32,000 people are expected to attend parties as of September 21, 2015. Participants will gather in auditoriums, classrooms, churches, and living rooms to hear Francis speak on a wide range of moral issues, including poverty, the global migrant crisis, environmental issues, and the family.

“Pope Francis’s message will serve as an invitation to Catholics, members of Congress, and all Americans to respond to the realities of the world with compassion and a spirit of solidarity,” said ISN executive director Christopher Kerr. When asked what his hopes are for those participating in watch parties, Kerr said, “We look forward to inviting watch party participants and others inspired by Pope Francis’s message to join us as advocate for human dignity on key human rights issues including immigration reform, U.S. policy in Central America, and climate change.”

Media observers are watching closely to see what effect the Pope’s visit might have on a Congress of which approximately 30 percent of members self-identify as Catholic, and nearly 15 percent attended a Catholic college or university. Fifty-six members of Congress were educated at Jesuit universities or high schools, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who issued the invitation to Pope Francis to visit Congress.