Thousands of University Students Meet in Rome During Holy Week

Annual Conference Works to Fund African Educational Programs

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Students from more than 200 universities around the world gather every year in Rome during Holy Week for the UNIV forum, sponsored by Opus Dei.

«The Ecology of the Person and His Environment» is the topic of the 2014 forum, which began Saturday and is underway through Easter Sunday.

Molly Ogunyemi, who collaborates with its organizing committee, told ZENIT: «UNIV provides an excellent opportunity for students to be close to the Pope, go around Rome, deepen their faith and increase their knowledge about the Church. It’s wonderful!» 

During last Wednesday’s general audience, according to a statement from the forum, participants delivered letters written by elderly people from five continents.

«The conference develops the intellectual and professional experience of the students. They work on topics, carry out research, and present their findings in the academic workshop, which is part of the annual UNIV Congress,» said Molly Ogunyemi. Some of the cultural events that the forum provides include conferences, seminars, exhibitions, concerts, study groups, and round tables.

Keynote speakers this year include Abel Albino, a medic from Argentina and member of the Conic Foundation, which works to combat child nutrition; Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Acton Institute in Rome; and Esther Jiminez, director of the International Center for Work and Family at IESE Business School.

«The students have been working hard on this topic since last year and have written good papers on the topic. They get to share their findings and suggestions to make a better world, with others from different backgrounds, and this facilitates inter-cultural exchange, as well as learning from others,» Ogunyami told ZENIT.

Through its social initiatives forum, which is one of the forum’s core activities, the congress promotes volunteering and solidarity projects which are developed by university students worldwide. Participants will be fundraising to help fund education projects in Africa.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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