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09/29/2015

Mass Communication Major Flies to Philadelphia for Pope Francis' Visit

Quick Facts

 Rennix is a mass communication major from Beaufort, South Carolina. She is editor of The Johnsonian.
 Rennix flew to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis during his U.S. visit.

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ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – During his recent tour of the United States, Pope Francis greeted millions of people in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia who lined the streets for a glimpse of him.

Winthrop University student Carolyn Rennix was one of those people.

“I was really inclined to make this trip because it is something that only happens a few times in someone’s lifetime,” she said. “Not many people in Rock Hill can say that they traveled to Philadelphia and reported on the fourth papal visit in the U.S.”

The mass communication major from Beaufort, South Carolina, has family members who live in Philadelphia. When they heard the Pope would be in the city for the World Meeting of Families, Rennix’s uncle encouraged her to make the trip.

All of the roads in downtown Philadelphia were completely shut down as well as many stores, restaurants and college campuses, Rennix remembers. The only way into Center City was by public transportation, foot or bike.

“So walking across the Walnut Street Bridge into the city at 10 a.m. looked like a scene from an apocalypse movie,” she said. “However, as it got closer to the public Mass, more and more people began to pile up. There were lines multiple blocks long just so people could get a few feet closer to the ceremony. Most of the people stood in line up to four hours just to get through security.”

Though Rennix was not physically close to the Pope, she said she had a better experience being farther away from him.

“The security was so high that all I would have witnessed ‘close-up’ is what I could have watched from home on the TV,” she explained. “I was able to see the protesters, watch the pilgrims march down the streets and sing and play instruments. I was able to talk with the locals about what they thought about everything. I feel like I had a more raw experience.”

As editor of The Johnsonian, Winthrop’s weekly student-run newspaper, Rennix will share that raw experience with the campus when the newest Johnsonian edition hits stands Wednesday.

But the thing she will remember most? Watching people climb on top of streetlight poles, food trucks and scaffolding for a better view of the Pope.

“Everyone was there to experience the same thing,” she said. “I will also remember how friendly everyone was. Despite the protesters, the crowd did not get angry or yell back; they chose to continue to celebrate this monumental day and be cheerful.”

For more information, contact Nicole Chisari at 803/323-2236 or smithne@winthrop.edu.


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