As Pope Francis touched down in Washington D.C. for his first visit to the United States since becoming pope in 2013, the Seton Hall community was well represented at every event on the Holy Father’s busy agenda.
The University’s involvement in the historic visit is not surprising, considering Seton Hall’s unique relationship with Francis’ Papacy.
Dr. Ines Murzaku, professor and founding chair of the Department of Catholic Studies, said that when Pope Francis was inaugurated in March 2013, she sent a letter to the papacy asking for an official blessing of the newly formed department.
The request was granted and Seton Hall University received the Holy Father’s special Apostolic Blessing.
In a formal ceremony on campus in December of that same year, Archbishop John J. Myers presented the blessing to President Gabriel Esteban on behalf of the University. The presentation was made in the Jubilee Auditorium in front of an audience of more than 400 people.
“This is an extraordinary distinction for Seton Hall University and the Department of Catholic Studies. This makes SHU the first and only university in the United States to claim such a rare honor,” Dr. Murzaku said.
The Catholic studies department was established in March 2012. Seton Hall is the first university in the eastern United States to create a Department of Catholic Studies. Seton Hall is America’s
oldest diocesan university.
A number of SHU deans and faculty were scheduled to act as experts in their fields and some to act as correspondents with various media outlets covering the papal events.
Elizabeth Defeis, advisor to the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, former dean of and now professor of Seton Hall’s School of Law, was scheduled to attend the U.N. Assembly where Pope Francis was expected to touch on issues surrounding sustainable development and the environment.
Thomas Rzeznik, associate professor of history, is featured in a documentary called “Urban Trinity, the History of Catholic Philadelphia” that was scheduled to be screened in Philadelphia and hosted by the World Meeting of Families.
Rev. Pablo T. Gadenz, an associate professor of biblical studies, was set to join Fios1News for coverage of the mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Thursday. He also helped coverage of various events throughout Friday with 1010WINS.
Dr. Jo-Renee Formicola, professor of political science, was scheduled to be onsite with a news crew from WNBC 4 New York for both the morning and evening coverage of events.
On Friday, the Pope is scheduled to address the United Nations in the morning, hold a multi-religious service at the Ground Zero Memorial midday, visit Harlem to meet with several Catholic elementary school children in the afternoon and preside over a mass with more than 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden.
Andrea Bartoli, dean of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, was invited by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and a US Conference of Catholic Bishops Officer, to participate in the meeting with religious leaders at Ground Zero.
“I think that it is great for the head of a major school of diplomacy and international relations at a Catholic (University) to be invited to such a selective event. It is recognition of the relevance and impact of the School of Diplomacy and I am very proud of it,” Bartoli said.
The dean was also scheduled to work with ABC News Radio for the first days of the Papal visit.
The Reverend Monsignor Joseph Reilly, rector and dean of the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, and Father John Chadwick, rector of the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception at St. Andrew’s Hall, led groups of approximately 80 undergraduate and graduate seminarians from their respective schools. They attended an address in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University, just before the canonization mass for Junipero Serra, the 18th Century Franciscan monk.
Emily Balan can be reached at email@example.com