BY GUEST BLOGGER | September 28, 2015
written by: Jeremiah Campoverde, St. Peter’s Preparatory School ’16
On Friday our entire school watched Pope Francis give his address to the UN General Assembly, which we reflected on throughout the day. One statement that the Pope made stood out to me in particular: that people are not statistics. While simple, this sentiment powerfully encompasses Pope Francis’ message of justice and human fraternity, the belief that all people from all walks of life are inherently connected in a truly special way.
Coming from a Jesuit school, I see this every day. Here in New Jersey at Saint Peter’s Prep, we stress the ideals of community, excellence, and solidarity. Community between students, faculty, and the surrounding neighborhood in Jersey City, where our school is located. Excellence in terms of the Magis, which not only means academics and athletics, but to strive to become the best person you can be. Solidarity through empathy and experience, service trips that I have been on, the people I have met, the stories that we’ve shared.
Pope Francis stands for all of these values and much more. Listening to his address, I was struck by how immersed he is in today’s world. He commented directly and indirectly on every major issue plaguing not only our nation, but the world. His resolve and sense of morality were palpable.
His belief in justice seemed to affect everyone listening to the address. During our group reflections afterward, every one of my fellow classmates commented on his just character and strong sense of love. Watching the address together as a student body was a unifying experience for the school. From Biology to Journalism, students in every one of my classes mentioned just how amazing the Pope’s speech was. But it wasn’t just that the Pope was eloquent, or that he was an amazing person; it was how his words stuck with all of us, including me.
The main lessons we took from Pope Francis were diverse, but we agreed on one thing: he wanted to stress the importance of humanity and creation. To the Pope, humanity, along with all of creation, has immense intrinsic value and the right to life. Francis stressed that when thinking of various solutions to today’s global issues, we must not forget that we are dealing with actual people, not just numbers. These people have dignity and must be included in the global scheme of things—not excluded as if they were pawns in a chess game.
When speaking of the environment, Pope Francis seemed at his most passionate and urgent. Stressing the importance of preservation and the beauty of creation, he spoke with an air of awe and simplicity. He said that while humanity may use the earth’s bountiful resources, we may not abuse these wonders. The Pope also made connections between two seemingly different concepts when he stated that harm to the environment is equivalent to harming humanity.
Pope Francis’s lessons on inclusion, awareness, and protection became the focal point of the day, bringing together all that I have learned during my years at Saint Peter’s. They demonstrated his Jesuit roots. After witnessing him speak, I see that my prior beliefs about the Pope were valid. He is so genuine, so ingrained with purpose that he has successfully bridged the religious world with the secular world. In Jesuit education, you learn the importance of faith through action. Pope Francis is the highest example of these values.