Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Delegation to Attend Catholic Synod in Rome

A group of Georgetown University students and faculty will travel to Rome, Italy, in October 2024 to attend a global meeting of members and clergy in the Catholic Church.

Applications are currently open to join a delegation composed of five students led by faculty members Annie Selak and Vanessa Corcoran, both of whom are professors with expertise in theology. The group will join 13 other groups from Catholic universities in the United States from Oct. 12 to 19, where they will engage in dialogue and observe proceedings at the synod, a global Catholic conference that draws attendees from around the world.

Selak, who also directs the Georgetown University Women’s Center, said that planning the trip has been a passion project for her to connect students with larger conversations about Catholicism.

“I’ve been working with other universities for several months to dream and engage about how current college students can engage with the synod and the global church,” Selak wrote to The Hoya. “As an ecclesiologist and theologian, I’ve never seen an event like this in my lifetime.”

According to Selak, the goal of the trip is to enable students to act as witnesses to themes of the synod such as dialogue, encounter and listening.

“This delegation engages the synod. We are not advocating for specific changes, but rather, being present as synod delegates listen to the global church,” Selak wrote.

McKenna Brannan (CAS ’26), the spiritual co-chair of Catholic Women at Georgetown, said that she hopes to join the trip as part of a university-sponsored effort to bridge dialogue and diversity.

“The opportunity to attend a synod, for a person of any age, profession, gender, status, etc is the experience of a lifetime. So, to have the opportunity as a 20-year-old college student is truly remarkable,” Brannan wrote to The Hoya.

“I think it embodies the Jesuit identity of Georgetown and speaks to the value that Georgetown places on its young Catholics. It shows that Georgetown really embraces the diversity necessary to cultivate a thriving Church,” she added.

Kim Daniels, director of the Georgetown Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, frequently attends synod meetings in Rome as an advisor to synod members. She said she hopes student attendees will be able to resonate with the diversity of the conference.

“Student attendees might keep an eye out for how those gathered in Rome reflect the global and diverse character of the Catholic Church, and how lay leaders, especially women and young people, are stepping forward to help build ‘an outward-facing Church that is healthy from the inside,’” Daniels wrote to The Hoya.

Brannan said that attending World Youth Day, a global meeting of young Catholics, helped foster a desire to engage in religious dialogue abroad — an experience she hopes to pursue once again in Rome.

Jack Willis / The Hoya | Georgetown University students and faculty will join delegations from 13 other Catholic universities in traveling to Rome, Italy, in October 2024 to attend a global meeting of members and clergy in the Catholic Church.

“I attended World Youth Day last summer in Lisbon, Portugal and was so inspired by the enthusiasm of the Catholic young people there and the scope of the Catholic church in general,” Brannan wrote. “That was the first experience I had with the global church and, in applying, I hope to find a similar experience at the Synod.”

“I think Catholic youth have a lot to contribute to the Synod but they also have much to learn from the bishops, priests, theologians and other Church leaders. The potential for education and personal growth combined with youth input particularly excite me,” she added.

According to Daniels, the purpose of attending the synod is not necessarily to solve problems facing the church but rather to promote conversations and build connections.

“This global gathering is not focused on particular issues so much as on helping an approach take root that involves listening to all, deepening our connection, and strengthening our mission to love God and our neighbors,” Daniels wrote.

Selak said that the trip will connect Georgetown students not only with Catholic social teaching, but a diverse cohort of undergraduate students across the country.

“The synod on synodality is a once in a lifetime experience, and we want to have Georgetown students gather with other students from across the country to engage in this momentous experience,” Selak wrote.

Daniels said the synod trip reflects a trend toward inclusion in the church, something she feels could benefit from the perspectives offered by Georgetown students.

“Georgetown students traveling to Rome for the Synod reflects so much about where Pope Francis has been leading the Church over the past 11 years,” Daniels wrote. “He offers a dynamic, hopeful vision that reminds Catholics that the Church is not called to be a fortress, but a ‘home with open doors’ for everybody.”

“Young people from the United States’ oldest Catholic and Jesuit university have so much to bring to that conversation, and so much to learn from others gathered from around the world for our shared mission,” she added.

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Jack Willis
Jack Willis, Executive Editor
Jack Willis is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from St. Augustine, Fla., studying international politics. He won his middle school spelling bee. [email protected]
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