The Pope at the University of the Sacred Heart: education ignites a flame of hope and service

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Pope Francis sends video message to Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan and calls for “new models of thought” to overcome various modern crises.

By Devin Watkins

The Milan campus of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart began its 2021/22 academic year on Sunday, in the presence of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

As the institution celebrates its 100e anniversary this year, Pope Francis joined staff and students via a video message.

The ceremony opened with a mass celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Ambrose in Milan by Archbishop Mario Delpini.

Flame of education

In his video message, the Pope sent his “warmest greetings” on the occasion of the return to university for the centenary of the institution founded by Fr. Agostino Gemelli.

He then reflected on how the institution can be characterized by the ideas of “fire, hope and service”.

Beginning with the image of fire, Pope Francis said that the University flame has been passed down from generation to generation by thousands of alumni, who have understood that “education is not about filling vessels. empty but to light flames ”.

“Before even passing on what we know, we light a fire by sharing what we are. This contact is made through a meeting.

The Pope said that a university brings people together “to one: one place, one time, one spirit.”

Hope expressed in relationships

The University of the Sacred Heart also reflects the virtue of “hope”, he said, because it offers an integral education based on solidarity.

“Education is above all a relationship,” said the Pope, “a relationship between teachers and pupils, then between pupils: a community of people open to reality and to others.

He said that the relationship between teachers and students is “in tension towards the present and the future”, and that together they are called “to think, plan and act towards a horizon of our common home of tomorrow, starting with the concrete reality of today. “

To hope, he says, is to bet on the future while overcoming the fears that hold us back.

“Don’t let your hope be robbed you!” And don’t get caught up in the virus of individualism.

University is a good place to develop “antibodies” against the virus of individualism, he added.

Shared service effort

The Pope then turned to the theme of service. The University of the Sacred Heart, he said, has often shown its loyalty to service in the Church and in society.

The work of its staff, teachers and researchers testifies to this spirit of service, as well as the daily efforts of its students to walk together “towards a shared horizon”.

Every component of the university, added the Pope, has an important role to play in this concert.

“Without the daily effort of each of you, this common project would be poorer, and would lack something, as if an orchestra lacked its timbre or the key of several instruments, even if they may seem less important. . “

Divine wisdom to serve

Pope Francis concluded his video message urging all members of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart to maintain the distinctive spirit of service by remaining faithful to the gospel.

“The Lord Jesus Christ, although being the Logos – Divine Wisdom – chose the folly of service to the point of total stripping: the wisdom of the Cross. In doing so, he testified to the truth of God’s love, and in Him, the King, he taught us that to serve is to reign.

And the Pope expressed his hope that the University could breathe deeply in this spirit of service and look to the horizon with courage in its educational mission.

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