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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Students recount synod experience in the Vatican City

The Hawk News
Panelists Melanie Guckin, Becky McIntyre ‘17, Elise Stankus and Julia Osęka ’25 discuss their experiences in Rome with the audience at Dispatches from Rome, the Synod Continues, Nov. 28.

Campus Ministry hosted “Dispatches from Rome: The Synod Continues” Nov. 28 in the Chapel during which Julia Osęka ’25 discussed her experience as a voting delegate in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, Italy.

Synods are meetings of bishops who represent the church body and advise the pope in Catholic Church affairs. Osęka was chosen by Pope Francis in July as the first non-Bishop voting delegate from North America.

The event was a discussion debrief-format event featuring Osęka and three other Philadelphians who traveled to Rome as part of Synodality in Catholic Higher Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (SCHEAP): Becky McIntyre ’17, a visual artist, Elise Stankus ’25, an English major at Rosemont College, and Melanie Gucke ’25, an early childhood education major at La Salle.

About 30 people gathered in the Chapel to listen to Osęka, McIntyre, Stankus and Gucke reflect on their experiences attending the Synod.

Osęka said her time in Rome was uplifting, and that she was grateful to be surrounded by others who are passionate about creating a hopeful future.

“I am transformed, and I continue to be transformed by this experience,” Osęka said in an interview with The Hawk. “It really brings a community together and opens up for dialogue that’s stripped of prejudices and biases and people who want to create a better place.”

Beth Ford McNamee, Ed.D., associate director of Campus Ministry, said it was an honor to have Osęka selected as a voting delegate, and that it was crucial for Osęka to share her perspective on being a young college student at such an important event to her peers.

“The significance of her being there as a voting member is almost beyond words,” McNamee said. “It’s truly history in the making. It’s the first time ever that women and young people were invited to be participating voting delegates.”

McNamee said the goal of this event was to hear people’s experiences, participate in the synod process and continue conversation around the role of young people in the church.

Gucke said her favorite part of being in Rome was being able to interact with many people from different religions and ethnicities, as well as neurodivergent people and people from a wide range of ages.

“It made the experience so fruitful because I was introduced to perspectives that I hadn’t been exposed to before, and it kept my mind open and curious,” Gucke said.

McIntyre said she was a visual notetaker during the one-week trip to Rome, and it filled her with hope for the future. “To have young people be part of this process, to show what the power of us building community can do and the relationships that we were able to build to make this happen,” McIntyre said. “I think it brings young people’s voices to the table in a way that’s important.”

Daniel Arias ’27 said he was moved by Osęka, McIntyre and Gucke’s experiences, and now has plans to join the SCHEAP program and travel to Rome.

“These people around my age are working towards getting their voices heard in such a powerful position,” Arias said. “I really can’t help but feel inspired.”

Shelby Wilson ’24 said she was similarly inspired by how Osęka was elevating the voices of women.

“I feel as a woman, you hear about these courageous women who make movements, and you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m so grateful, I’m so grateful that a woman is making these movements,’” Wilson said.

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