Press Releases

Loyola University Chicago to Serve as Hub for Global Building Bridges Initiative

Madonna della Strada in the spring

CHICAGO – September 6, 2023

Loyola University Chicago will serve as a global hub and facilitator for the Building Bridges Initiative–a multinational and synodal experience launched at the University in February 2022. 

Inspired by the call of Pope Francis to synodality and in collaboration with the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Loyola launched Building Bridges North-South, an event that brought students across the Americas into direct dialogue with Pope Francis. 

Loyola facilitated the creation of student groups across large geographic regions, accompanied students as they engaged in listening, dialogue, and discernment around shared social concerns, and invited representatives to a live-streamed dialogue with Pope Francis where they shared their group’s experiences and hopes directly with him. 

Following the first historic encounter between the Pope and university students, the second encounter, Building Bridges Across Africa, involved students from across Sub-Saharan Africa in November 2022 through special additional collaborations with the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network and DePaul University’s Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology. 

Building on the success of these two experiences, Loyola will continue its leadership role in the initiative by supporting the upcoming Building Bridges Across South Asia experience on September 26, 2023, at 8:00 a.m. Central Time. The livestream of the encounter hosted on YouTube will be accessible in three languages: English, Spanish, and Hindi. 

Peter L. Jones, PhD, interim dean of the Institute of Pastoral Studies, is passionate about the upcoming experience for Asian students–and Loyola’s role in starting and sustaining the movement. “This initiative began in response to Pope Francis’ call to be a synodal Church. Although not officially part of the Synod 2021-2024, we’ve really embraced that energy. We’ve facilitated once-in-a-lifetime direct conversations between university students and the Holy Father–but the amazing thing is that the synodal encounter is really between the students themselves. This is a conscious effort to walk alongside young people in a way that centers their diverse experiences, perspectives, wisdom, and voices. This initiative seeks to offer a platform to those who occupy the margins of society and rarely experience the freedom and access to offer their insights, vision, and hope.” 


About Loyola University Chicago
Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is one of the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic universities, with nearly 17,500 students. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy, as well as course locations in Vernon Hills, Illinois (Cuneo Mansion and Gardens), and a Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Illinois. The University features 15 schools, colleges, and institutes. Ranked a top national university by U.S. News & World Report, Loyola is also among a select group of universities recognized for community service and engagement by prestigious national organizations including AmeriCorps and the Carnegie Foundation. To learn more about Loyola, visit or follow us on Twitter via @LoyolaChicago