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Spring pilgrimage to Rome

St. Catherine students and adult leaders assemble for a group photo prior to departing for Rome.
St. Catherine students and adult leaders assemble for a group photo prior to departing for Rome.
Photo by Laurie Svatek.

This spring break, 28 students from St. Catherine University will participate in a Papal Audience with Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square. The weekly Wednesday audienceconsisting of small teachings and readings mainly in Italian, and a prayer in Latin at the end — is part of the University’s “Catholic Rome Pilgrimage with Sister Andrea” from March 20 to March 29.

The students are traveling to Rome, Assisi and Siena with St. Catherine President Andrea Lee, IHM; Father John Forliti, the University’s chaplain; Laurie Svatek, director of Campus Ministry and Dr. Amy Kelly, director of St. Kate’s Health and Wellness Center. 

“A pilgrimage is travel in which you have time to reflect on God,” explains Svatek. “Our students — diverse in religious tradition, majors and ethnicities — will have plenty of opportunity to engage in prayer and explore key places that have helped shape the Catholic faith, including the Vatican.”

The students will also study in-depth “the magnificent lives of four women saints who definitely knew how to lead and influence,” as President Lee describes. The saints are Catherine of Alexandria, Catherine of Siena, Clare of Assisi and Teresa of Avila.

The pilgrimage attracted more than twice the number of expected students. It originated when Laura Crepeau ’16, a biochemistry major, shared a thought with Svatek last year.

“I was watching the Conclave live with a few others in Campus Ministry,” Crepeau recalls, “and I turned to a friend and thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be fun to be in that crowd of people waiting for the results of the smoke?’ I told Laurie that afternoon and she said that we should plan a trip.”

But Crepeau wasn't content with “just any trip to Rome.” She wanted something that would allow students to connect deeply with their Catholic faith.

During these eight days in Rome, Crepeau hopes “I can gain a deeper spiritual connection with the Lord through His Church.”

March 19, 2014 by Pauline Oo

See also: Catholic Identity, Students