Students get involved through local parishes

Margaret Keane

Freshman Keri Salanik will achieve the Triple Crown at the Papal Visit this weekend. She will be volunteering at the World Meeting of the Families Youth Congress on Friday and has tickets to both the Festival of Families on Saturday and the Papal Mass on Sunday. Salanik will attend these events with her parish, Saint Maria Goretti, located in the Philadelphia suburb of Hatfield. 

“All of the parishes in the Archdiocese [of Philadelphia] were given a certain number of tickets to the Papal Mass,” Salanik said. “Having a ticket, I have a better chance of being able to [see the Pope], but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. With a ticket to the Mass, you have a better chance of receiving Communion. Whereas just going there [without a ticket], you’re going to be really far away.”

Apart from distributing tickets, Salanik’s parish has a special connection to the World Meeting of the Families Youth Congress through the director of its youth group, Maria Richardson. Richardson  previously worked in the Office of Youth and Young Adults for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and was appointed as the Youth Congress Director at the World Meeting of the Families. The parish will be running the Youth Congress’s “snack shack.” She encouraged members of Saint Maria Goretti to sign up as volunteers. 

These volunteers, including Salanik, were among the parishioners who received tickets to the Festival of Families on Saturday and to the Papal Mass on Sunday. 

Campus Ministry is also offering opportunities for students to become involved in Pope Francis’s visit. Students are invited to a community viewing of the Papal Mass in the Villanova Room at 4 p.m. Members of the Knights of Columbus Villanova Chapter also had a chance to become ushers at the Mass. 

Some local students are taking advantage of what their parishes have to offer as well. Before she even stepped on campus, Salanik learned about the opportunities at her parish. “I wasn’t sure exactly what Villanova would provide whereas I could plan ahead of time through my parish,” Salanik said. The connection she had through Richardson provided greater certainty. 

The parish’s tickets ensured that Salanik would have a spot at the events, and that she would be attending with family and friends. These tickets don’t guarantee that she will be able to see the Pope or that she will receive Communion, but at least she has a prayer.

For student Nora Cipressi, family ties led her to the opportunity at her parish. “My dad just texted me and asked me if I wanted a ticket,” Cipressi said. Her parish, Saint Philip Neri in Lafayette, Pa., is also offering Papal Mass tickets to its members. 

“It seemed like the simplest way to get in. It was already organized for me and I got to go with my family,” Cipressi said. She will be taking a bus, provided by her parish, into the city with her dad and two aunts.

“I haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that I’m going to see him. He’s just such a great role model,” Cipressi said. 

Salanik is excited for this historical event, as well. “I feel like this is the closest I’ll ever get to Pope Francis because I have this opportunity through my parish,” he said.