By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~
Xavier University will be holding a Circle of Solidarity Ceremony to help excite the students for the livestreaming of Pope Francis’ address to the United States Congress on Sept. 23.
Pope Francis will address Congress for the first time in history the morning of Sept. 24 in Washington, D.C.
More than 2 million people will watch the address, and Xavier’s Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ) wants students to be a part of that number. “That is what we are kind of getting excited about,” Gillian Ahlgren, professor of theology and founding director of the Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice, said. “This is the first time ever that a pope has ever addressed the United States in history. This is probably the biggest moment in U.S. Capital history.”
The CFJ staff planned a concert in order to help develop the spiritual atmosphere desired to prepare the students for when the pope speaks to Congress.
The theme for this concert is solidarity and was named in an effort to be open to all the students on Xavier’s campus. “Something that came to my mind was the theme of solidarity when thinking of the pope’s address. I think it’s important to realize that the pope isn’t just a big deal for Catholics, it is also a big, important deal for non-Catholics as well,” student and co-creator of the event Kiana Salazer said.
The Circle of Solidarity will be held in the atrium of the Gallagher Student Center from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in preparation for the pope’s address.
“I think holding it in the student center will allow it to become more lively as students are talking to one another. It will also allow other students to stumble upon it and join in,” student and co-creator of the event Alex Hale said.
Jose Augliar, a guitarist and vocalist from Spain, will be performing his own set of songs that circle around the theme of solidarity to create a spiritual atmosphere. “He is a really wonderful musician that is spending the week here from Spain. He has been anxious to do something involving the pope with peaceful and joyful song pieces,” Ahlgren said.
There will also be various religions at the Circle of Solidarity to encourage students of all faiths to come and explore themes of peace, justice and solidarity that the pope is expected to address the following morning. Sound bites from Pope Francis’s encyclical will also be shared during the ceremony to encourage the spiritual atmosphere.
Various Xavier choirs might also make an appearance at the circle.
“Pope Francis is history’s first Jesuit pope, and I think that, as a Jesuit university, we have special insights into his message and a deep appreciation of what he embodies for the whole world. What better way for Xavier students to understand their heritage than to really take in and consider Francis’s message?” Algren said.
The live streaming of the Pope will take place on Sept. 24 in the Bellarmine Chapel. All of the Xavier community is welcome to attend, as there will be a session in the morning as well as a later session that night. Anyone in the Cincinnati community is also welcome to attend.
“We are living in a totally historic moment, the first time that the pope has ever addressed the U.S. congress. I am excited for us as a Jesuit university,” Ahlgren said.