VATICAN CITY- After a massive effort by the Marquette community, University Athletics announced this year’s special guest for Marquette Madness is His Holiness, Pope Francis.
Marquette Madness is an annual event, held in early October to mark the official start of the basketball season. The event includes free giveaways, contests, scrimmages, dunk contests, and much more.
In the past, athletes such as Jabari Parker and Dwyane Wade have made appearances at the celebration. However, none of the past celebrities can quite hold an advent candle to this year’s featured guest.
The effort to bring Pope Francis to Milwaukee was led by junior Sean Driscoll, who sparked a sensation with this tweet.
“I’m not even that religious, I just really wanted to see Pope Francis judge the dunk contest,” Driscoll said on his inspiration for starting the social media campaign. “Best case scenario, I’d love to see him dunk too.”
The tweet immediately caught on in the Marquette community, and the tag #BringPopeFrancisToMadness was tweeted over one million times. Former players and head coaches alike added fuel to the movement.
After creating such a commotion online, it was eventually brought to the attention of the Vatican. At first Pope Francis’ Staff was hesitant to participate in the event, but strong arguments from head coach Steve Wojciechowski and Driscoll eventually succeeded.
“The cheese curds proved to be a bigger factor than we initially thought,” said Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke. “Plus Sean showed us highlights on his phone of some sick dunks that Sandy Cohen threw down last year at Madness. We really couldn’t say no.”
The Vatican later unveiled a special video for Marquette, confirming the Holy Father’s upcoming visit to Milwaukee. In it, Francis shares his excitement for the event, the free Marquette apparel, and finally, being able to see his favorite player- Andrew Rowsey- play in person.
“I really think Marquette can finish in the top 5 in the BIG EAST this year, but who am I to judge,” His Holiness said in the video.
In addition to an appearance at Marquette Madness, Francis will also be celebrating the Tuesday night mass at St. Joan of Arc with Fr. Nicky Santos on October 4. The University is advising interested students to begin lining up five days in advance for admittance.
Asked about expectations for this year’s event, he was excited just to be able to witness it in person. He does however have one hope for his upcoming visit.
“I just really hope the jump around guy makes it this year,” Francis said.