Friday, October 31, 2014

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University of Dallas Students Request Pope Francis as 2015 Commencement Speaker

Students at the University of Dallas in Irving, Tex., have started a grassroots campaign to bring Pope Francis to campus as the 2015 commencement speaker, according to the student newspaper.

The initiative started out as a joke, but turned more serious when the students found out that the Pope would be visiting the United States in the summer of 2015.  “We thought, ‘Maybe this is a possibility,’” said [UD junior Alex Doucet].  “And we started thinking of all the connections we have as a university and realized how … we could possibly get that to happen.”

The class of 2015 has a special connection with Pope Francis—many members were present in Rome for his election to the papacy during their study abroad program.

The students are writing letters to Pope Francis as one of a number of steps to help their plan succeed.  The student newspaper reports:

Connections are another factor that has led the group to believe that the plan could succeed. According to Langsfeld, “our legacy in Rome” will be crucial to the campaign. This legacy includes Rome and on-campus faculty like Monsignor Thomas Fucinaro, Father Brown and Father Thomas, as well as sources close to the Pope who are familiar with UD, such as John Allen, George Weigel, Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.

“We’re going to be sending the Benedictus picture from the Rome Spring 2013 class. We’re going to blow that up nice and large and have everyone sign that as well,” Doucet said. “That is going to be sent with Father Thomas, because he’s going to Rome in the summer and is possibly going to have lunch with the Pope. He’s going to be able to deliver our formal letters as well.”

The group also plans to send out invitations asking family and alumni to write their own letters to the pope again expressing the request to visit UD. Students are encouraged to ask any religious persons they may know to write letters as well. These letters will all be added to the ones delivered by Fr. Thomas Esposito.

University of Dallas is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

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