Villanova Vatican Interns in the National Media During Papal Visit

Nicole O'Donnell
Former Villanova Vatican Intern Nicole O'Donnell '16 has been accredited by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication to cover the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia as a student correspondent.

Through a unique internship program with the Vatican, Villanova University students are contributing to the Vatican’s communication, social media and multi-media technology efforts. As part of this unique Vatican Internship Program, Villanova students are placed in various Vatican offices including the Pontifical Council for Social Communication and the Internet Office of the Holy See, as well as news organizations including Catholic News Service and Rome Reports.

This fall, seven Villanova students are interning at the Vatican.  Five Communication majors are in Rome this semester, with two Communication students interning at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and one apiece at Catholic News Service/Rome Bureau, Rome Reports and the United Nations' IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development).  Two Computer Science majors are interning at the Vatican during the fall semester, with one student at Vatican Museums and the other at the Internet Office of the Holy See.

With the eyes of the national and international media world focused on Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September, former Villanova Vatican interns have also been sought after sources for stories on the Vatican’s social media efforts. Media highlights of Villanova’s Vatican Interns include the following:

Villanova began its Vatican Internship Program in 2003, sending computer science students to the Internet Office of the Holy See. Since then, communication majors have joined the computer science students in Rome. In 2008, the University began sending students to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, where they have been integral in helping add to the Vatican and Papal presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. Through these extraordinary opportunities, Villanova students are contributing to the various ways in which the Vatican communicates with the rest of the world.

Villanova students have also been part of the development of virtual reality tours of some of the world’s most historic churches and basilicas, including the Sistine Chapel, Papal Basilica of St. Peter, Pauline Chapel. If you visit the tours, you’ll see a shout out to Villanova University at the bottom.

Over the years, the internship opportunities for Villanova students at the Vatican have continued to grow. In addition to the Internet Office of the Holy See and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Villanova students are now interning at The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations headquartered in Rome; Vatican Museums; Rome bureau of Catholic News Service; Rome Reports; and the Vatican Radio Office.

Villanova’s Vatican Internship Program is funded by the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society.

Several alumni of Villanova’s Vatican Internship Program contributed to the Pope’s upcoming U.S. Visit and the World Meeting of Families. These individuals included:

  • Nicole O’Donnell ’16 CLAS, interned in the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communication during Fall 2014. She was accredited by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication to cover the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia as a Villanova student correspondent. O’Donnell took photos and wrote content for the Vatican Facebook page, etc.
  • Danielle McMonagle '14 CLAS, who interned in the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communication during her time at Villanova, is Manager of Communications at World Meeting of Families. During McMonagle’s Vatican internship, she commented on her experiences at the Vatican during the Papal conclave for numerous media outlets, including the Today Show.
  • Lauren Dugan ’15 CLAS, ’16 MA, was a Vatican Intern at Catholic News Service/Rome Bureau in 2014. In fall 2014, she doubled as an intern with the Catholic News Service’s Vatican bureau and as a Vatican correspondent reporting on the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) buzz for Philadelphia’s Fox 29. Dugan continues these relationships stateside. She covered local WMOF stories for Fox 29, and shot video of the congress and papal visit for Catholic News Service and the archdiocese.