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SJU graduate John Thavis speaks on Vatican experiences

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July 6, 2007

John Thavis, a 1973 graduate of Saint John’s University and one of the leading reporters on Catholic news at the Vatican, speaks at 7:30 a.m. Friday, July 27, at the St. Cloud Holiday Inn, and 11:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 13, at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis.

Thavis presents “An Inside View of the Vatican” on the inner workings of the Holy See and his extensive coverage of the Vatican for Catholic News Service (CNS).

The presentation, part of the SJU Leaders and Legacies Speaker Series, is open to the general public. The cost is $15 in St. Cloud and $20 in Minneapolis, and includes breakfast and lunch, respectively.

Thavis is Rome bureau chief of CNS, which specializes in reporting religious news globally and operates as a primary source for nearly every English-language Catholic news organization. The CNS Rome bureau, which provides what many regard as the best Vatican coverage available from any news agency, is one of the main reasons for its international appeal.

Thavis has worked in the CNS Rome bureau since 1983 and has headed the department since 1996. He has written extensively on religious affairs in Europe and the Middle East, published a Rome guide book and contributed to “John Paul II: A Light for the World.”

In May 2007, the Catholic Press Association (CPA) awarded Thavis the 2007 St. Francis de Sales Award, considered the highest honor given by the Catholic press. The award is named for the patron saint of journalists, who Thavis described as having a lot to say to modern reporters. “He had a great respect for the truth,” Thavis said. “He knew the destructive power of the half-truth. He knew that sometimes one must tell an unpleasant truth, but said it had to be done with love and kindness."

Thavis won the award "for his in-depth knowledge of the workings of the Vatican and his ability to share that with fellow journalists and Catholic press readers," according to the CPA. Thavis "shows the same level of care, depth, balance and precision in informing readers about the everyday pastoral work of the popes … as he does covering major events such as the release of an encyclical, canonizations and controversies."

Thavis graduated from SJU with a bachelor’s degree in English and later earned a second bachelor’s in language studies at Gregorian University in Rome.

The Leaders and Legacies Speaker Series is sponsored by the Alumni Relations Office at SJU. Advanced registration by July 20 is encouraged. More information is available on the SJU Alumni Web site or you can call 320-363-2591.