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Loyola student selected to attend conference with Pope Francis in Assisi, Italy

Rennae Wigton, ’20, a psychology and theology major

Rennae Wigton, ’20, a psychology and theology major, was selected out of 3,400 applicants from 115 countries to attend the “Economy of Francesco” conference in Assisi, Italy. Wigton, who is also working toward her Master of Theological Studies at Loyola, will be one of 2,000 participants under the age of 35 to attend the conference.

The conference, which was set to be held on March 26-28, 2020, has been rescheduled for Nov. 21, 2020.

An initiative started by Pope Francis, the conference will host young researchers and entrepreneurs who are interested in the economy, environment, poverty, inequalities, new technologies, inclusive finance, sustainable development, and humanity. Speakers at the meeting include, Nobel Prize economist Amartya Sen, food security activist Vandana Shiva, and Muhamad Yunus, a pioneer of microcredit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis and make a solemn pact with him—ensuring their commitment to change the current economy and give a soul to tomorrow's economy.

“I hope this will be a phenomenal opportunity to be an active practitioner of change,” said Wigton. “This is also a great way to push me out of my comfort zone and interact with diverse, passionate individuals.”

The Butler, Pa., native plans to earn her Ph.D. and work in a private practice treating patients who are dealing with trauma and addiction. She currently works with the nonprofit Every Rep Counts, where she offers brief meetings focusing on addition recovery and goals in the gym.

"I've worked with Rennae over the course of three semesters. She's one of the most hardworking, diligent, and thoughtful students that I've encountered in my years at Loyola,” said Daniel Castillo, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology. “In wrestling with theological questions, she consistently demonstrates a mature concern for the world and for those that suffer. I'm thrilled that she'll be representing Loyola at the 'Economy of Francesco' conference in Assisi."

During the conference, the participants will have the opportunity to conduct personal in-depth interviews with economists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, bankers, friars, sociologists, managers, innovators, and religious sisters.

The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Loyola University Maryland supported Wigton’s application in the “Economy of Francesco” conference.

The event is organized by the Diocese of Assisi, the Seraphic Institute, the Municipality of Assisi and the Economy of Communion, in collaboration with the Franciscan Families.