ST. BONAVENTURE - Nine St. Bonaventure University students, in association with Franciscan Action Network, will be traveling to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, to watch Pope Francis' address to Congress on a big screen at the National Mall.
And one SBU student is lucky enough to be able see the Pope preside over Mass Wednesday afternoon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
"Within a few hours of announcing we were sending a group down (to Washington), all the spots were filled, which really speaks to the attraction Pope Francis has," said Jason Damon, an SBU senior and recent intern for the Franciscan Action Network.
Damon's work at Franciscan Action Network earned him a ticket to see the Mass, at which Father Junipero Serra will be canonized.
"I think Pope Francis continues to capture the imaginations, hopes and fascinations of people all over the world and he's certainly one of my heroes," Damon said, "so to be able to go on a pilgrimage of sorts to see him is amazing."
During the student trip, there will be training in faith-rooted organizing, climate justice and non-violent demonstrations so students can more effectively talk about and live out the Holy Father's message.
The students will also attend a speaker-laden vigil at the Capitol Building Wednesday evening, in advance of the Pope's address to Congress Thursday. Maggie Morris, director of the Warming House, and Julie Hall from the School of Education will accompany the students.
"It really is generational," said Damon, "something that may not happen again for a long time. This is an opportunity to be a part of something historic."
On campus, the St. Bonaventure community is invited to watch the Pope's televised events at the Merton Center, and to take a picture with a life-size cutout of the Pope from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Merton Center; either take a selfie, or bring a friend to take a photo.
The schedule of televised papal events to be shown in the Merton Center:
• Wednesday, 9 a.m.-noon: White House Welcome, Papal parade, Midday prayer
• Wednesday, 4-6 p.m.: Canonization Mass
• Thursday, 9 a.m.-noon: Address to Congress, Visit to St. Patrick's and Catholic Charities in D.C.
• Thursday, 6-8 p.m.: Evening prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York
• Friday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: UN Address, Service at 9/11 Memorial
• Friday, 5-8 p.m.: Central Park Motorcade, Madison Square Garden Mass
• Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon: Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia
• Saturday, 7-9 p.m.: Festival of Families and Prayer Vigil with World Meeting of Families
• Sunday, 3:30-6:30 p.m.: Papal Mass for World Meeting of Families
Additionally, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 29, University Ministries will host "Francis Goes to Washington: a Panel Discussion on the Pope's address to Congress" in the auditorium of the William F. Walsh Science Center.
Four panelists of students, faculty and staff will give their reactions and impressions of Pope Francis' speech to Congress.