By Lory King
ROME — Seven students from Caldwell University, located in Caldwell, New Jersey, experienced the history and wonders of the Eternal City, from 7 to 17 March.
The students participated in a course entitled, “The Catholic and Dominican Tradition in Rome,” taught by Dr. Nancy Blattner, president of Caldwell University, and Sr. Kathleen Tuite, OP, vice-president of student life.
The 10-day study pilgrimage was comprised of visits to the major basilicas of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s to name just a few, as well as lectures from Dr. Donna Orsuto on “Women Doctors of the Church,” Abbot Edmund Power, OSB, on “Preaching to the Ends of the Earth, Paul’s Missionary Activity,” and Dr. Lori King on the “Message of the Martyrs for Today.”
Students met several Dominican brothers and sisters working and studying in Rome. They shared their joy in living the Dominican tradition and their knowledge of the Dominican heritage in Rome.
The highlight of the trip came during a papal audience when one of the students, Stef Konboz, who has been dealing with a serious illness since the age of 13, received a personal blessing from Pope Francis, which the entire group witnessed.
The emotion of the moment was indescribable and tears of joy flowed as the group watched Pope Francis shake Stef's hand and then place his hands over her head to extend his blessing to her.
Looking at the beaming faces of the students on their last day in Rome, it was easy to see the transformation that had taken place in each of them during their study pilgrimage.
A day trip to Assisi was included in this year’s program. The beauty of the Catholic and Dominican tradition in Rome has left a tangible mark on the hearts, minds and souls of this bright and enthusiastic group of students. The program organizers are certain this experience will bear much fruit in the future.