Dr. Brophy’s Franciscan Pilgrimage: The General Audience with the Pope

Before leaving Rome, our Franciscan Pilgrimage leaders arranged for our group to be part of the weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square. We woke up early and walked down the hill from our hotel to join the crowd of thousands gathered from around the world. The program itself was about an hour and half long, conducted in eight different languages to accommodate the needs of the faithful.

Pope Francis focused his meditation on the theme: “God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27), the mission of Paul and Barnabas and the Council of Jerusalem (Biblical passage: from the Acts of the Apostles, 15:7-11).  His mediation can be found here.

Before the program began, Pope Francis toured through the crowd in an open vehicle that allowed him to interact with the faithful. As luck would have it, the Pope visited near our group to bless a baby. Pictured here is the official photo of the blessing (left) and my cell phone photo of the same (right). The blessing will be with the child’s family forever, as will the photos for me.

Dr. Brophy’s Franciscan Pilgrimage: The Sistine Chapel

This was not my first visit to the Sistine Chapel. On previous visits, however, I had hurried through the Chapel due to the crush of tourists. This time I committed to taking whatever time I needed to better appreciate the Chapel’s artwork, perhaps the most famous in humanity.

I rented an audio tour guide and made my way though many galleries before arriving at the Chapel, once again crowded. I followed the directions on the guide and settled into my own personal space for an hour. This was not easy as many tourists moved quickly in and out of the Chapel, many doing what I had done before. A quick look up to the ceiling to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece. God creating humankind in his image and then off to the next Rome destination.

I was about a third of the way through my audio tour when there was a loud “Silenzio” and then a “Shhhhhhhh” ringing throughout the Chapel. A security staff member’s amplified message quickly quieted down the international sounds and admonishments coming from the assembled.

It was quiet for a minute before chattering sounds came back like birdsong at sunrise. Many visitors were talking. Others were texting or playing with their phones. Some were quickly taking contraband photos. And, of course, many were finding creative ways to eat and drink forbidden food. I went back to my audio tour for the rest of the appreciation, standing with neck straining up to see all the detail of the frescoed ceiling.

Near the end of the audio tour, there was another round of “Silenzio’s,” but this time they were said by a priest who then blessed all of us. When he finished the blessing, he offered to hear confessions from any of those gathered.

This was interesting. In a very chaotic and public setting, the Church was offering the sacrament of reconciliation. The priest stood waiting by the side of the altar. Since no privacy was offered, I couldn’t imagine anyone taking him up on his offer and want back to my tour.

When I was finished the tour and looked down from the ceiling, I was surprised to see that a gentleman had come forward and was offering his confession the priest. There, just below The Final Judgment mural, was one of the faithful offering his vulnerability and most personal reflections to the Church.

It was a reminder to me about the work we do in a faith-based educational setting. We work hard to establish environments for learning that are filled with artifacts of humanity’s most significant achievements. Settings and faculty are carefully put together in such a way as to inspire our students, but the hustle and bustle of modern living can be so distracting.

When we compete for our students’ attention, with all that the modern world presents to them during their waking hours, what do we do to make a deep and personal connection with them? How do we make sure that they know they can let down their defenses and reflect on their learning and character development in our educational setting?

One would think being in the presence of greatness of thought should be enough, but when Michelangelo competes against an iPhone for our students’ attention we are reminded of the need of going the extra step to assure them that they can come forward to give expression to their innermost thoughts and reflections. This is noble work, for sure.

Dr. Brophy’s Franciscan Pilgrimage

Hilbert President Dr. Brophy is currently traveling abroad on a Franciscan pilgrimage sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph. Join us as he chronicles his journey!

I write from Rome where my first Franciscan pilgrimage begins. Sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph, I am looking forward to better understanding their charism and the work our campus community needs to focus on as we commence the implementation of our Strategic Plan, Hilbert 2025.

Our first day here in Rome happened to be Saint John Paul II’s feast day. We celebrated Mass in what is known as the Polish chapel at the Vatican, and the entire complex was busy celebrating his legacy. A great energy to begin the pilgrimage.

I will write along the way in hopes that my personal journey over the next two weeks resonates with others who are working to sustain the Franciscan way.



Presidential Installation | PHOTO GALLERY

On the eleventh of October, Hilbert College celebrated the Installation of Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A., Fourth President of Hilbert College. Students, delegates, trustees, faculty, staff, and the community gathered for the Mass of Thanksgiving and Installation Ceremony. Afterwards, a post-installation campus celebration was a perfect end to the festivities.

St. Francis and the Wolf | PHOTO GALLERY

As St.Francis’ reputation for holiness and peace spread throughout his native Italy, people called upon him to resolve their disputes and to deliver them from danger and violence. In celebration of St. Francis week, SGA held a Stuff a Wolf event in celebration for the Wolf of Gubbio. Students and Staff were welcome to either stuff a large or a small wolf to bring home and remember how St. Francis was able to bring peace between a ferocious wolf and the small Italian town.

Inside The Hilbert Difference – Enactus

Written by Hilbert College graduate, Lauren Carlin (’19)
President – Enactus
President – Phi Beta Lambda
Vice President – Young Americans for Freedom
Secretary – Franciscan Spirit Club 

Over my last four years at Hilbert College I have been involved with a variety of different student clubs and organizations. One is Enactus which is an international organization that stands for ENtrepreneurial ACTion through US. Enactus is dedicated to creating a better and more sustainable world!

Through my time in Enactus I have volunteered both locally and internationally. We have worked within the Buffalo community with the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program by creating educational workshops in the areas of budgeting, communication, and job placement to help refugee students receive a job for a sustainable life here.

In 2017, we teamed up with Akron Varsity Softball on the “Pack-A-Plane” project to collect school and recreational supplies, which were then airlifted from the Niagara Falls Airforce Base to the Dominican Republic. In total, more than 5,400 lbs. of goods, valued at over $13,000 were delivered to the community that we served called Bani, Dominican Republic. This was my first service abroad experience and the most rewarding part was seeing the children’s smiles and hearing their laughter even though they are impoverished and malnourished. Although I was there to teach and help the children, it was their innocent spirit which taught and inspired me to realize how blessed I am with the ability to be able to help others.

The following year through a connection I had at my church Hilbert Enactus formed a relationship with Ann Marie Zon the founder of the “Nicaraguan Mission Project.” We supported this organization by collecting household items and packing donations in containers in Buffalo for shipment to those in need in Nicaragua. During Winter Break 2018, Hilbert College Enactus had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and stay at a children’s home called Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, meaning “our little brothers and sisters.” Over the course of the trip we organized and completed a variety of projects for the NPH community, such as creating beaded necklaces and bracelets, delivering care packages to seniors in a nursing home, bringing school supplies to the children, and digging up a large vegetable garden. One of the projects that I led was called “Lollipops for Learners” where I educated the children on how to create, market, and sell lollipops that were donated by Parkside Candy. A few days after the lesson we sold the lollipops at a beach to locals and tourists where all the profit came back to help NPH. This mission trip showed me how grateful, thankful, and blessed I am to be able to serve God and his people.

This past year Enactus students and I arranged a project called “Buffalo Serves Bani” which was a Co-Ed volleyball tournament hosted at Hilbert that was to generate funding for Hogar De Ninas Hijas de la Altagracia, a girls orphanage in the Dominican Republic. In January 2019 Enactus students participated in a service trip where all net proceeds from the event were used to create a volleyball court, fund other recreational equipment, and to help improve the overall quality of life in the community we served. During our one week journey there we completed several legacy projects as well as creating tie pillows, building structures, and teaching educational workshops to women entrepreneurs. Next year, Enactus already has plans to continue its relationship in the Dominican Republic by funding for the drilling of a water well.

None of this could have been possible without the support and encouragement of Professor Dan Roland and Dr. Amy Smith. During my time with Hilbert College Enactus I am happy and humbled to say have impacted hundreds of people and helped to make this world a better place.

Do you want to experience The Hilbert Difference through Enactus and similar organizations? Learn more about the opportunities available to Hilbert students at hilbert.edu/student-life

Mother Colette’s Crosswalk Dedication Ceremony | PHOTO GALLERY

Two student organizations at Hilbert College, Enactus and Rotaract, held a dedication ceremony for “Mother Colette’s Crosswalk”. This project brought new flowers, plants, and landscaping to the area around Hilbert’s St. Clare Chapel.

Special thanks to the generous support of Kevin Monaco ’01  Proprietor of Monaco Enterprises Of WNY, Inc., for donating the plants & materials!