Daily Updates

March 13, 2013

Villanova’s Vatican interns get view of history

PHILADELPHIA — Talk about a baptism by fire: On the first day of Lauren Colegrove’s journalism internship at Catholic News Service in Rome, the pope announced his resignation.

The Villanova University junior thought she’d spend her first day filling out paperwork and undergoing orientation. Instead, she ran over to the Vatican Press Office to attend a news conference and later conducted interviews in St. Peter’s Square.

“It’s pretty hard to have a more exciting first day of work than that,” Colegrove said in an email interview.

Colegrove, originally from Tampa, Fla., is among four Villanova University students working this semester at the Vatican. It’s an already uncommon internship that has taken on a whole new dimension with the historic departure of Pope Benedict XVI and the start of a papal conclave to choose his successor.

Previous interns from Villanova, a private Catholic university near Philadelphia, have shot videos for the Vatican’s YouTube channel, created 360-degree virtual tours of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, and performed research that led to the first papal tweet in December.

“Not every tourist can walk up and say, ‘I’d like to go behind the wall of the Vatican and check out what’s happening,”’ said Villanova computer science professor Robert Beck, who helps select the students who go abroad. “The interns are given the ability to do that.”

In addition to Colegrove’s reporting, the university this year has a computer science student working on a Vatican mobile app at the Internet Office of the Holy See and two other students interning at the Pontifical Council for Social Communication.

The council administers the Vatican’s main news portal, www.news.va, and its companion Facebook page. Communications interns Danielle McMonagle and Sean Hudgins have been creating and curating content for the latter website since last month, including taking photos of Benedict’s last audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“It was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced, not only as an intern but just in general being there with thousands of people from all over the world,” McMonagle, a junior from Moorestown, N.J., wrote in an email.

Thaddeus Jones, a council official and the interns’ supervisor, said the world moves so quickly that “it’s more important than ever” to draw on students’ knowledge of multimedia and digital social platforms to help the church communicate in the 21st century.

But with the breaking news of the pope’s departure and subsequent conclave, which began Tuesday with the College of Cardinals failing to choose a new pope on their first vote, there is less time for students to research emerging technologies and strategies, as previous interns have done, he said.

“It’s kind of like all hands on deck right now, rather than study trends and things,” Jones said in a phone interview.

Villanova’s program started in 2003 with computer science students working in the Vatican’s Internet Office to help modernize the church. By 2008, communications students were being placed at the Pontifical Council for Social Communication.

Last semester, intern Andrew Jadick helped the church prepare for a tweeting pope by researching how other major world figures use their Twitter accounts. Jadick was among those who stood by the pope Dec. 12 when he tweeted for the first time, and got to shake the pontiff’s hand.

After Benedict stepped down Feb. 28, the church deleted, but archived, all his tweets — the account reads “Sede Vacante,” or “Seat Vacant.” Jadick hopes the pope’s successor will also take advantage of Twitter because a social media presence can help Catholics feel more connected to their leader.

“It would be a shame if he doesn’t want to use it,” said Jadick, who is now back on campus.

Meanwhile, McMonagle is among the millions awaiting the telltale white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. She hopes to capture an image of the symbol of a new pontiff being elected.

“To have the opportunity to work as an intern here at the Vatican was already an honor,” McMonagle said, “but to be doing so now at this historic time is simply incredible.”

———

Online:

www.twitter.com/pontifex

www.news.va

www.facebook.com/news.va.en

1
Text Only
Daily Updates
  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall

    Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

    April 19, 2014

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats

    As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

    April 19, 2014

  • Delay won’t quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL

    Democrats sweating this year’s elections may be hoping that the Obama administration’s latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

    April 19, 2014

  • In Other News, April 19

    April 19, 2014

  • 5 features an Amazon phone might offer

    A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

    April 19, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors

    With an expanded field of runners and the memory of last year’s bombings elevating interest in one of the world’s great races, the 2014 Boston Marathon could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area.

    April 19, 2014

  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.

    April 19, 2014