Catholic students discuss Pope Francis’ upcoming visit

Students from Newman centers in the city met at Penn to discuss volunteering.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families 2015 held a gathering for university students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Newman Center on Saturday to recruit student volunteers in anticipation of Pope Francis’ late September visit to Philadelphia.

The company of students involved with the gathering consisted of Philadelphia universities including Temple, Drexel University, The University of the Sciences, Neumann University and Penn.

It is estimated that 1-2 million people will attend the event in September, making volunteers crucial to the experience. As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput already advertised on Facebook, WMOF aims to recruit approximately 10,000 volunteers, and it is calling on university students to fill those spots. The organization meets every three years to discuss faith centered around a theme, which for this year is “Love is our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”

“Pope Francis has such an appeal to young people that college students are drawn to his visit,” said Charlie Cappelli, a senior management information systems major.

“Many students come from broken homes, and many others are thinking about families in the future,” Cappelli added. “The subject [of families] is pretty timely for them.”

“Youth is one of the church’s greatest assets,” said freshman David Wells, a communication studies major at Temple.

“We as students can represent God’s joy and love that resonates in a different way than people from older generations,” Wells added. “We can connect with people our age and we can help them better understand Catholicism. We can effectively carry out the task needed for volunteering and help others from around the world.”

This event will mark the first time a WMOF assembly takes place in the United States, as well as Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S.

There are several volunteer positions available, including language translators, digital diplomats, volunteer captains, logistics and operations, guest services and special service coordinators.

There will be training for the positions both online and on site of the event venues. Volunteers can sign up for priority registration by sending an email to

In order to be a volunteer, one must submit to a background check and be a United States citizen of 18 years or older.

Saturday’s gathering also included a presentation about the pope himself. Pope Francis, only relatively recently named the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, has become extraordinarily popular among religious and non-religious communities alike.

“[The presentation] discussed what [Pope Francis] thinks is the most important issue right now which is simply loving and valuing every human life and showing God’s love to others,” Wells said.

“In just two years, Pope Francis has captured the hearts of Catholics and non-Catholics from all corners of the world through his tremendous service to the poor, his humility to live simply, but most importantly, through his endeavor to love the way Christ has taught us,” said Amy Saunders, a junior tourism and hospitality management major and the social coordinator of Temple’s Newman Center.

Students split into different groups to discuss what they could do as a whole to prepare for the arrival of the pope before the closing of the mass held at noon.

“It gave us time to meet other people from other campuses who could potentially be volunteering with us,” Wells said.

Nathalie Swann can be reached at

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