Franciscan University Troubadour Feature

April 20, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pope’s Trip to U.S. Draws Franciscan Students to Barricaded Sidewalks

By: Heather Bartlett

What do you get when you put 9 students of various majors, a Communications professor, 3 cameras and a soccer coach into a Franciscan University van bound for Washington, D.C.? Franciscan Papal Initiative, a crew of enthusiastic students embarking on a pilgrimage to the nation’s capital to provide media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to the United States. Each student had a general position, ranging from still-shot photographer to reporter to on-set secretary. 

The students left campus on Tuesday, April 15th at 9:00AM and returned Friday evening (in time for the Matt Maher concert). While filming in D.C., the students were provided housing by alumni of Franciscan University who live in Virginia.

While filming in D.C., the Franciscan Papal Initiative members not only interviewed many different representatives and media elites but were also provided mass media coverage as a school team. On the first day of filming, crew members Andrew Leonard, Jessica Belback and Heather Bartlett were interviewed by and featured on WTOV Channel 9. Several days later, another member, freshman Stephanie Rangel was interviewed by CBS and broadcasted live nation-wide, reaching her parents at home in San Diego, CA. Two other members were interviewed early Thursday evening by Sirius Satellite radio.

Freshman Maria Mitchell, who, in collaboration with Doctor James Coyle and Antonio Soave, played a significant part in the planning and logistics of the trip, had the opportunity to interview the former vice president of DreamWorks.

During the visit, the students saw the Pope in-person twice, once from metal barricades 30 feet away and again from only 15 feet away, as his Holiness roved the street in his Pope mobile. During the first viewing, the students were given the novelty opportunity to pose for a picture in front of the Pope’s limousine.

The footage of the Pope’s visit to the capital will be arranged into two different documentaries; one will be a three-part mini-series of events, interviews and up-close footage to be submitted to EWTN for national broadcast. Other footage will be compiled into a reality TV series entitled “Franciscan U’s Impression of the Pope’s First Visit to America,” a more light-hearted, teen-friendly, informative commentary to be formally submitted to major broadcasting networks such as ABC, CBS and NBC within the next few weeks.

“I have a feeling this is just the beginning,” Mitchell said of the upcoming editorial process.

More information, as well as updates made by crew members, can be found at




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