By Alec Zbornak
From Sept. 23–28, Dean of Men Mr. Dan Annarelli, Community Service Program Coordinator Mrs. Angela Moran and theology teacher Ms. Tika Lee led 17 students on a trip to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis and experience the end of his historic visit to the United States at the World Meeting of Families.
According to the World Meeting of Families website, the organization is “the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families” and hosts conventions every three years “to strengthen the bonds between families and to witness the crucial importance of marriage and family to all of society.”
Over the course of five days, the Loyola delegates attended a number of breakout sessions, lectures and keynote speeches at Mr. Annarelli’s alma mater, Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School, the only Jesuit high school in the city. Cubs joined over 300 students representing 42 other Jesuit Schools across North America.
Mr. Annarelli said that through the Papal address and the Ignatian Colloquium, the students learned about the Catholic values regarding the central family unit: “The high school groups that met at Saint Joseph’s Prep spoke about the notion of the Ignatian Family and the concept of family as it extends out to our communities.”
Mr. Annarelli said that he thinks it is important for the students to take part in this discussion about family.
“Students came together to have a discussion about what family means to them,” said Mr. Annarelli. “The issue of family has been so controversial, recently. Through this colloquium students took issues that have been in the public eye and refocused them in a way that will benefit society”
Senior Adrian Sibal said that he especially enjoyed the lectures presented by the Jesuit Secondary Education Association (JSEA) at Saint Joseph’s High School.
“There was a lot to learn from the teach-ins,” said Sibal. “I particularly enjoyed being able to share meaningful information with fellow students from other Jesuit schools around the continent.”
In addition to attending the conference, Mr. Annarelli and Ms. Lee guided the students on a campus tour of Villanova University.
“I’m from Philadelphia and it meant the world to me to be able to take students to my hometown,” said Mr. Annarelli.
The group attended the Pope’s address at World Meeting of Families on Saturday at Independence Mall, where some Cubs spent four hours standing along the barricades hoping for pictures of the pontiff.
The conference concluded on Sunday, Sept. 27, with a city-wide liturgy officiated by Pope Francis. The students waited in the general admission line four hours for the event.
Senior Michael Simic said that he was very excited to take part in Pope Francis’ Mass: “I am a practicing Catholic, and participating in a Mass led by our Pope was very beneficial to my faith. It was a rare opportunity that I am glad I did not pass up.”
Ms. Lee said she hoped that the students would grow emotionally and spiritually during the conference.
In addition to hearing Pope Francis speak, junior Nicholas O’Donnell said that he also enjoyed bonding with his fellow classmates: “I greatly admire Pope Francis and the new, modern face he’s bringing to the Catholic Church. I relished in the opportunity to hear him speak, especially in the company of my fellow classmates,” he said. “We had a great time, and everyone was impressed with Pope Francis and his revitalization of the Church.”
“I hoped the students would realize and understand that Pope Francis is a living embodiment of the care, concern and love that Jesus taught us all. I truly believe he is a living saint,” said Ms. Lee in an emailed statement.
Furthermore, both Ms. Lee and Mr. Annarelli said that they are excited to see how the students bring what they learned at the conference back to Loyola and the surrounding community.
Ms. Lee said, “I hope our students are moved to practice more compassion and are inspired by the Pope, who always demonstrates for us what it means to be truly human in community with one another.”
Mr. Annarelli said, “Our delegation of students took part in an important conversation. Hopefully, they can guide that conversation in a healthy, open way and can bring a new perspective back to the Loyola community.”
To view pictures, videos and Tweets from the event, students can search under the hashtags, #2P4F, #2Philly4Francis and #cubs2philly4francis, and can visit Mr. Annarelli’s Twitter, @Deanarelli.