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Pope Francis Youth Award for Faith and Social Transformation
September 17 @ 9:00 am - September 18 @ 1:00 pm
Vice Chancellor’s Speech During the Inauguration
Call to Care for One Another
Your Excellency Paulo Rudelli, the Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe, Your Grace Robert Ndlovu, the Archdiocese of Harare, Very Rev. Fr. Leonard Chiti, the Jesuit Provincial of Southern Africa Fr. Evaristus Ekwueme, Very Rev. Sr. Mary Goretti, CJ, the Provincial of the CJs in Zimbabwe, Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Affairs, Fr. Bernard Muhigirwa, Pro Vice Chancellor Administration and Finance, Academic and Administrative staff of Arrupe Jesuit University, our students participants, invited guests ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
Your Excellency and Your Grace, this is the second time that both of you have come to Arrupe Jesuit University on agenda that touch on the development and progress of the young people. It is really a manifestation of your commitment to the future progress of humanity where each person is a “brother’s keeper” (Gen. 4:9). Thank you very much for your care, friendship, and commitment to the mission of the Church.
Your constant encouragement to the young people challenges them to grow as responsible and dedicated individuals in the service of the Church and authentic progress of humanity. At the beginning of his Papacy, Pope Francis called on all of us saying, “These convictions and habits of solidarity, when they are put into practice, open the way to other structural transformations and make them possible. Changing structures without generating new convictions and attitudes will only ensure that those same structures will become, sooner or later, corrupt, oppressive and ineffectual” (EG 189).
As we gather here to reflect on the experiences of the young people with the teachings of Pope Francis, especially on Faith and Social Transformation, they remind us of the personal and collective responsibility we have towards what is going around us. In the model of the Good Samaritan, Pope Francis challenges “us not to decide who is close enough to be our neighbor, but rather that we ourselves become neighbors to all” (FT 80). It is a call to action for “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Mat. 25:35-36). It is an invitation to be role models and wash one another’s feet (John 13:5).
Pope Francis invites humanity to “to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of physical proximity, regardless of where he or she was born or lives” (FT, 1) as we are “you are all brothers” (Mat. 23:8). This attitude will help limit hostilities and violence that currently dominate our work to that union and friendship that each individual human being longs for.It is a call to promote greater harmony and “bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation” (EG 205).
In conclusion, we thank all of you for coming. We encourage our young brothers and sisters who have started this journey of reflecting on the teaching of Pope Francis that they persist on this path. Please share what you have experienced with your peers that this foundation may be enlarged. May the Lord bless you all.
Fr. Joseph Oduor Afulo, SJ, Ph.D.