BISMARCK, ND - It's estimated that one million or more people will gather at St. Peter's Square Tuesday, March 19, 2013, for the installation Mass of Pope Francis - and University of Mary's 20 students from its Rome campus will be there front and center.
The University of Mary students will be in great company. They will share this historic moment with presidential and vice presidential dignitaries as well as 132 government delegations from around the world who will be in attendance at the Rome ceremony.
The Mass of Inauguration for the 266th successor to St. Peter, Pope Francis I, will be held at 4:30 a.m., CDT (9:30 a.m. Rome) Tuesday, March 19.
"We have cancelled classes on campus for Tuesday," commented Thomas Schulzetenberg, director of University of Mary's Rome campus. "Instead, we will bring our students to the classroom - that is, St. Peter's Square. We will be there five hours early with our state flag and wearing University of Mary apparel representing Mary and North Dakota proudly."
Last week, Rome campus classes were held outdoors near St. Peter's Square so students could be close by when the Catholic cardinals signaled they had named a new Pope. Once the white smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel they ran to the square to take part in the celebration.
"This is definitely another once-in-a-lifetime event that I am very proud and honored to be part of at University of Mary's Rome campus," stated a very excited Shane Dukart, a Mary student from Killdeer, ND, double-majoring in business and Catholic studies, who is one of three family siblings currently studying at the Rome campus. "As a student, to witness two historic events in less than a week and share the experience with my brother and sister and classmates is a dream come true, and one I'll cherish for the rest of my life."