Villanovans get involved in Papal visit

Maria McGeary

This weekend, a group of Villanova’s finest will be traveling to participate in events leading up to and included in the World Meeting of Families.  A total of 125 students in Villanova Singers and Villanova Voices will be performing the world premiere of the oratio ‘The Wedding Feast of the Lamb,’ written by American composer Cormac O’Duffy.

The piece is 12 movements long and sung almost completely in English, with one movement written in Latin and another featuring multiple languages. Based on Biblical passages that discuss marriage and family, O’Duffy’s piece was composed specifically for this event and blessed by Pope Francis earlier this year. Directed by O’Duffy himself, the performance will also feature performances by singers of the Opera Philadelphia, and accompanied by a youth orchestra of students from String Theory and GAMP Charter High Schools.

Christine Nass, Assistant Director of Music Activities at Villanova and Director of the Villanova Voices’, said, “This is a very exciting prospect for our Choirs this year—to be a part of the celebration of our city and preparing the way for the arrival of Pope Francis. It is a privilege and we are looking forward to it immensely!”

Participating students began learning the piece during the spring semester, performing three movements of it at the Spring Concert. Students also returned to school before the beginning of classes to continue their work. “They’ve all worked incredibly hard,” Nass said. The oratio’s world premiere will take place on Thursday, September 24, at the St. John the Evangelist Church. Beginning at 8 p.m., the performance is open to the public and CAT will be providing transportation for Villanova students. To register, visit the Campus Activities Team website.

Additionally, three of Villanova’s faculty members will be participating in panels at the World Meeting of Families. Daniel Mark, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Political Science, will be serving both as a Session Chaplain and a panelist. The publication of The World Meeting of Families Preparatory Catechesis, a collection of ten short chapters on the themes of the meeting was published and available to the general public prior to the event. 

During the World Meeting, “There are the giant keynote speeches that happen, a couple each day, and then after that there are a dozen simultaneous speeches as a response to what we just heard,” Mark said.

As a Session Chaplain, Mark will deliver the opening prayer before a speech by Cardinal Padle of the Philippines. Mark will then host one of several smaller speeches following the Cardinal’s remarks. Entitled “Home Improvements: Forgiveness and Family Life,” Mark’s speech will discuss the importance of forgiveness, and its application to daily life. 

“I’ve tried to create a balance between bringing in my own experience. I’m certainly no model of virtue in this respect of in any respect, but I’ve turned to the wisdom of both the Jewish and Catholic traditions in terms of offering good advice,” Mark said.

Currently on sabbatical, Mark has a visiting fellowship at Princeton University. Mary Hirschfeld, Phd, Assistant Professor of Economics and Theology, and Associate Professor Of Theology Anna Bonta Moreland, PhD, will also be participating in a similar manner.

Several Villanova alumni are heavily involved in the World Meeting of Families. Rosalie Mirenda, PhD, ’59 CON, is on the Board of Directors and has assisted with fundraising and volunteer efforts. Keith Jones ’07 CLAS will be reporting the event live from the parkway on September 26-27 for NBC10 Philadelphia. For a complete list of the 12 Villanova Alumni involved, visit “The Office of the President” tab on Villanova’s website.