Miami (United States). On 25 May 2023, three students from Immaculata-LaSalle High School in Miami, Florida, directed by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of St. Joseph Province (SEC), participated in the online meeting with Pope Francis on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Scholas Occurrentes.
Initially born in 2001 in Argentina, thanks to the contribution of the then archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as a cultural response to the country’s political, economic, and social crisis, the body has spread throughout the world. It was then officially created in 2015, by Pope Francis with a pontifical decree, in order to encourage the sharing of projects promoted by schools with a view to mutual enrichment and to support schools with fewer resources, promoting education for all.
Pope Francis, present at the Augustinian Institute in Rome where he closed the Scholas Occurrentes event on “Eco-Educational Cities”, virtually met the young people, including around forty representatives of Miami, New York, and Los Angeles schools who, from the studio of the Telemundo broadcaster, asked them a question about the educational emergency and the most urgent youth social challenges.
“Every woman, every man, every girl, every boy has the duty to be authentic and the right to be respected,” replied the Pope. It is a word – “authenticity” – that “is used a lot but is not understood.” Instead, “if a person expresses him/herself like this, authentically, the others respect the person as he/she is.” And he continued, “The bullying crisis is because one does not respect the other’s way of being. It is very serious and destroys lives. The school must accompany the journey of every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, who has the right to be authentic. We have a duty to be authentic and a right to have our authenticity respected. This great respect is a great journey”.
The group of students meet through Scholas Occurrentes to become youth leaders and work on the objectives of the Global Educational Pact, launched by Pope Francis in 2019, to collaborate with the Church on the current needs of young people and find creative solutions to satisfy them. Together they created a mural depicting mental health issues affecting young people.
The other students of Immaculata-LaSalle High School were able to participate in the event, broadcast in live-streaming by the Spanish-language television station Telemundo, see their classmates Isaac, Veronica, and Carolina, and receive the blessing of Pope Francis (Video min. 45’).