Pope welcomes Merrimack College leadership at Vatican

byCindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- University students today need an education that not only prepares them for a career but helps them face personal challenges and learn how to contribute to the good of their communities, Pope Francis said. Welcoming members of the board of trustees and other leaders from the Augustinian-sponsored Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, to the Vatican May 10, the pope noted how the college opened in 1947 specifically to educate soldiers returning from service during World War II. "Clearly, for those young men who had experienced the trauma and the brutality of war, more was needed than academic instruction alone," the pope said. "It was necessary to restore in them a sense of meaning, hope and confidence for the future, to enrich their minds, but also to warm their hearts and restore hope for a brighter future." While the challenges young people have today are different, the pope said, they "are faced with multiple 'crises' of various kinds: economic, financial, labor; political, environmental and values; demographic and migratory." "Now, as in the past, it is important that they be taught to face challenges together, not letting themselves be overwhelmed, but rather responding in such a way that every crisis, even when it involves suffering, can be transformed into an opportunity for growth," the pope said. Catholic colleges and universities, he said, must help their students "aim for a future, not so much of wealth and success, as of love, building a humanism grounded in a spirit of solidarity." To do that, the pope said, they must learn to identify and use their personal talents and the resources available to promote "models of personal and social life marked by justice and mercy, in order to give everyone an acceptable and dignified existence."