Pope Francis was visibly relaxed and joyful as he met with students, their families, immigrants and others in New York this afternoon, listening to the students present their projects that reflected his teachings, meeting a young boy from Argentina, getting a lesson on how to use a touchscreen, playing a little soccer with the Catholic Charities team, and even assigning some "homework."
The Holy Father spent time in a classroom of Our Lady Queen of Angels school in Harlem, as students from four Catholic schools of the area showed him class projects with themes ranging from care of the environment to the Eucharist.
He went on to address the students and their families, as well as those representing immigrant populations of New York.
Speaking as a son of immigrants, he acknowledged that it isn’t easy to come to a new place, and that one’s imagination can often return to the homeland. An immigrant has to dive into adjusting and learning all that has to be learned, he said, a language, culture … even how to play ball, he quipped, in reference to the soccer team members who had tossed him a soccer ball as he greeted the people.
"The good thing is that we also make new friends," the Pope said, praising those in the community who do what they can to welcome the stranger.
Referring again to Martin Luther King, as he did in his address Thursday to Congress, the Holy Father said, "It is beautiful to have dreams and it is beautiful to be able to fight for them. Don't forget this."
"Today we want to keep dreaming," Francis continued. "We celebrate all the opportunities which enable you, and us adults, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities."
You have a right to dream, the Pope added.
"Wherever there are dreams, there is joy," the Pontiff said. "Jesus is always present. Always. On the other hand, who is the one who sows sadness, doubt, the one who sows envy, the one who sows bad desires? What's his name? The devil! The devil! The devil always sows sadness because he doesn't want us happy; he doesn't want us dreaming. Where there is joy, there is always Jesus. Because Jesus is joy, and he wants to help us to feel that joy every day of our lives."
Pope Francis concluded asking permission to give his audience some "homework."
"Can I?," he said. "It is just a little request, but a very important one. Please don’t forget to pray for me, so that I can share with many people the joy of Jesus."
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