Catholic colleges gear up for U.S. papal visit with special programs, volunteering

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September 8, 2015

Pope Francis is surrounded by pilgrims as he arrives for an audience with parish groups promoting evangelization in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 5. (CNS photo/Angelo Carconi, EPA)

Pope Francis is surrounded by pilgrims as he arrives for an audience with parish groups promoting evangelization in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 5. (CNS photo/Angelo Carconi, EPA)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Many U.S. Catholic colleges are well prepared for the pope’s visit to the United States and have been gearing up for it with spiritual programs, discussions, service projects and social events that almost always include a Pope Francis cardboard cutout.

The colleges located in the three cities where the pope is visiting — Washington, New York and Philadelphia — are particularly pulling out the stops by donating their parking spaces, rescheduling classes and sending groups of students as volunteers to help at papal events.

For The Catholic University of America in Washington, the pope couldn’t get much closer. When Pope Francis celebrates an outdoor Mass Sept. 23 on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the crowd will be assembled on the 3.6-acre outdoor space where the university holds its annual commencement ceremony.

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