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DePaul University to host virtual dialogue between Pope Francis and African university students

Students from across Africa will ask questions of the pope

Pope Francis participates in the first Building Bridges event with students from the Americas hosted by Loyola University Chicago.  

Pope Francis participates in the first Building Bridges event with students from the Americas hosted by Loyola University Chicago. (Courtesy of Loyola University).
CHICAGO –– DePaul University is supporting “Building Bridges across Africa: A Synodal Encounter between Pope Francis and University Students,” a virtual dialogue with the theme "Ubuntu: A Culture of Encounter; We All Belong." The Zoom webinar featuring students from more than a dozen African universities and DePaul is Nov. 1, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. DePaul is providing technical support, hosting the Zoom webinar and coordinating interpretation services. Information about how to join the webinar is available on DePaul’s Global Engagement website .

Partners in this effort include 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.

“We’re thrilled to support an opportunity for university students to speak with the pope about the church and contemporary issues,” said DePaul President Robert L. Manuel. “As a Catholic, Vincentian university, we place high value on engaging in cross-cultural dialogue to cultivate understanding and strengthen global connections around the world. We’re proud of the extensive experience our faculty have in facilitating global conversations like this one.”

DePaul has convened dozens of Global Conversations , virtual conversations in which students and faculty from several institutions in different countries interact in a guided dialogue on a list of global topics.

Fr. Stan Chu Ilo, a DePaul professor with the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology and member of Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network, is helping to coordinate the Nov. 1 event. 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.

“We believe that this is the time for a synodal church, and we support the synodal process the pope is promoting globally,” said Ilo. “In this context, we are proud to host this historic encounter between the pope and university students from Africa. The hope is that this back-and-forth momentum will generate some interest on the themes emerging from the lived experiences of African young people and their unique context and daily joys, sorrows and dreams.”

About DePaul University

Celebrating 125 years of engaging, diverse and global learning, DePaul University provides exceptional academics and real-world experiences to prepare students for a changing world. With nearly 21,000 students across more than 300 academic programs, DePaul has two campus locations in Chicago. Students richly benefit from the city’s many opportunities. In turn, DePaul is one of the forces that shapes Chicago’s future. The university was founded in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul. DePaul is among the nation’s top universities for diversity because of its long tradition of providing a high-quality education to students from a broad range of backgrounds. Today, DePaul is the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest and the largest Catholic university in the nation. As it begins its next 125 years, DePaul remains committed to service and leadership as a faith-based institution.

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