DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Professor, SGA president participate in webinar with Pope Francis

Professor, SGA president participate in webinar with Pope Francis

Pope Francis and Fr. Stan Chu Ilo on Zoom
Pope Francis and Fr. Stan Chu Ilo welcome students from throughout Africa to a dialogue on Zoom, hosted by DePaul University.

In a webinar streamed around the world and in three languages, Fr. Stan Chu Ilo, a professor of World Christianity and African Studies, and Student Government Association President Kevin Holechko joined African university students in a dialogue with Pope Francis.  

The dialogue builds on the success of the February 2022 encounter between Pope Francis and university students from across the Americas, an effort from Loyola University. Insights from both conversations will inform and influence the Synod of Bishops, a consultation and listening process undertaken by the pope on the life of the Catholic Church. Video from the event is available on YouTube

“When you speak about the culture of encounter, you speak like an African elder,” said Ilo, a co-organizer of the event and member of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network, addressing the Holy Father. “Because the culture of encounter is the summary of the African Ubuntu a shared ethical and spiritual wisdom in Africa that says that we are all together. We all belong; we all are connected, and we are held together by a bond of love in a shared universe.”
Pope Francis and Kevin Holechko
DePaul SGA President Kevin Holechko welcomes Pope Francis to the webinar.

Holechko, a DePaul senior, called it “one of the greatest honors” for DePaul to participate in the webinar. 

“Our Vincentian mission calls on us to seek out the injustices of the world and help the marginalized,” he said. 

Students representing universities in ten African countries asked the pope questions about ways to put their Catholic faith into action. They discussed the challenges of poverty, migration and hunger as well as violence and civil unrest. Hundreds of students participated in the discussion and dialogue to select what would be asked of the Holy Father and which students would have the honor of asking the questions.  

Drawing on the success of Global Conversations, cross-culture dialogues with hundreds of students and professors worldwide, DePaul’s Global Engagement facilitated the webinar in partnership with DePaul’s Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network, the Vatican's Dicastery for Communication, the General Secretariat of the Synod, Pontifical Commission for Latin America and Loyola University of Chicago.