BY ISN STAFF | September 29, 2015
On Sept 24, nearly 40,000 people participated in Pope2Congress watch parties nationwide to witness Pope Francis’s historic address to a joint session of U.S. Congress, the first ever by a Pope.
347 parties were registered in thirty-five states across U.S. and as far away as Rome, Italy, according to ISN program director Kim Miller.
Immediately following the address, many partygoers held group discussions about how to respond to the moral issues raised by the Pope, including climate change and immigration. Participants shared written and videotaped reactions on Twitter and other social media channels using the #Pope2Congress hashtag.
Meg Doyle, a student at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, participated in her school’s watch party in the student union called The Perch. Doyle said she was inspired by the Pope’s message of “the care for God’s creation.” “We were all created in [God’s] image and likeness, and that’s what he promotes,” she said.
The Pope2Congress campaign was created by the Ignatian Solidarity Network to generate excitement about Francis’s address to a joint session of Congress, the first ever by a pope. Individuals and institutions that registered with ISN to host watch parties received a party-planning toolkit from the organization that included discussion questions, live-tweeting instructions, giveaway prizes, and even BINGO cards.
Pope2Congress by the numbers:
- Over 38,000 people engaged in watch parties that took place at elementary schools, high schools, universities, parishes, churches, province offices, spiritual centers, ministry offices, and living rooms.
- More than 5,500 Tweetsand hundreds more Instagram and Facebook posts used the #Pope2Congress to communicate reactions and share photos of Pope2Congress watch parties.
- Over 30 news stories were reported on watch parties around the U.S., including those at Xavier High School(NYC), the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration(Lacrosse, WI), Louis University, and St. Thomas More Catholic Church (Austin, TX).