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Pope Francis: Catholic universities must prepare students for dialogue

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VATICAN CITY — Catholic universities are “called to be workshops of dialogue and encounter in the service of truth, justice and the defense of human dignity at every level,” Pope Francis told a delegation from Pennsylvania’s Villanova University.

“It is my hope that in every aspect of its life and mission, Villanova University will persevere in its efforts to communicate the intellectual, spiritual and moral values that will enable young people to participate wisely and responsibly in the great debates shaping the future of society,” the pope said. Read more »

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Faith & Sports — Conference looks at ‘Sport at the service of humanity’

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VILLANOVA, Pa. — Last October, the Vatican hosted a groundbreaking conference to explore the ways faith and sports could act together to spark positive social change, and encourage greater inclusivity, commitment and inspiration on a multicultural global stage.

This June, coaches, chaplains, campus ministers, university administrators and others from across the United States gathered at Villanova University to explore ways to make that vision concrete in the world of collegiate sports. Read more »

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Villanova wins NCAA basketball championship – Updated

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PHILADELPHIA — Brush fires were purposely set along pockets of Philadelphia April 4 after Villanova won the NCAA men’s basketball championship.

They flamed and flickered high enough to be easily seen by helicopter, but they remained safe and contained until the police demanded they be extinguished.

It’s safe to say, however, that the fire that burns within Villanova’s basketball team and its collective fans across the country and in Philadelphia will be raging for some time to come.

In a basketball game that forged itself into history, the Wildcats edged North Carolina, 77-74, in the men’s Division I NCAA championship in front of an announced crowd of 74,340 at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

The championship-winning points occurred when junior Kris Jenkins made a three-point shot as the clock displayed all zeroes, opening the floodgates for awestruck players, crazed fans and an endless supply of streamers and confetti to meet in a pile of jubilant humanity just inches from where Jenkins made his shot.

“To say I’ll never forget this is an understatement,” said Jenkins. “This isn’t about me. It’s about everyone on this team, about everybody back home, about every player who has ever worn a Villanova uniform. This is something that we all share.”

Trailing by five points at halftime, Villanova seized control in the second half and led by 10 points with less than five minutes remaining. But North Carolina, a five-time NCAA champion, battled back to within three points before Carolina’s Marcus Paige rattled home an off-balance, three-point prayer that tied the game at 74-74 with 4.7 seconds left, inducing temporary panic in Nova Nation but ultimately setting the stage for Jenkins’ stop-and-shoot buzzer-beater.

Watching the replay, Jenkins seemed to know instinctively that his attempt would work. “To be honest,” said Jenkins, who tallied 14 points in 21 foul-challenged minutes, “I think every one of my shots is going in.”

As the ball fell through the hoop, Jenkins raised his arms in triumph as the Villanova bench raced to greet the game’s most-celebrated hero. Before that, players like senior four-year captain Ryan Arcidiacono, junior Josh Hart, senior Daniel Ochefu, and sophomore Phil Booth had helped provide the foundation for a victory ticketed for the ages.

“Our teammates, we just fought,” said Arcidiacono. “At halftime, we said we needed to play 20 minutes of Villanova basketball. In the second half, we just fought. We made remarkable plays at the end of the game. I love this team.”

Villanova coach Jay Wright appeared reserved throughout the celebration process. He said he was looking forward to seeing the replay of the winning basket. He didn’t have an explanation for his lack of tangible emotion, but he assured everyone that, inside, he was ecstatic as anyone.

“You’re like a parent when you’re a coach,” said Wright. “I just couldn’t be prouder, couldn’t be happier to see them enjoy this and fulfill their dreams. That’s what it’s all about for a coach, just to see their eyes, to see their satisfaction, their enjoyment. There’s no better feeling in the world for a coach or a parent.”

Consistent with Catholic Augustinian values — the order founded and has run Villanova since 1842 — Wright lauded the opposing Tar Heels, particularly coach Roy Williams.

“That was one of the great college basketball games we’ve ever been a part of,” said Wright. “We didn’t just beat a great team. We beat a great program, a classy program. Before they determined that the shot was good, Roy came right up to me and said, ‘I’m really disappointed for our guys. It was a great game, but I’m really happy for you.’ I know he meant that.”

— By John Knebels, who covers sports for CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

 

Villanova Wildcats forward Daniel Ochefu hoists the national championship trophy with teammates April 4 after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 in the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four in Houston. (CNS photo/Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Villanova Wildcats forward Daniel Ochefu hoists the national championship trophy with teammates April 4 after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston. (CNS photo/Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

 

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Villanova, 76ers coaches promote peace through basketball in Holy Land

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JERUSALEM — Jerusalem is hot, especially in the gym of the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Bilingual School for Jewish Arab Education. Jerusalem is tense, too, with jolting violence this summer over dismantled settlement homes, gay rights and a brutal attack on a Palestinian family.

But those events did not keep Villanova University basketball Coach Jay Wright and Philadelphia 76ers Coach Brett Brown from heading to Israel to engage in peacemaking efforts with youth from PeacePlayers International, an organization that uses basketball to foster team play and tolerance in areas of conflict. Wright also brought his basketball-playing family with him.

The coaches found their way to Israel via Arn Tellem, president of the Detroit Pistons, who is on the board of PeacePlayers International. Read more »

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Moving their games (next year) up the Blue Route

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – Adrianna Hahn and Donte DiVincenzo both have a state basketball championship, more than 1,000 points scored and numerous highlight videos on YouTube. And when they graduate in a few months, both will be playing college basketball in the Big East Conference at Villanova University.

But despite the similarities, Hahn and DiVincenzo are two unique people who have gone through high school under different circumstances. They sat down at Salesianum recently to chat about their high school accomplishments and what lies ahead. Both have earned scholarships to Villanova– just a coincidence, they said. Read more »

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