Pope Francis during his visit at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem


Pope's Address at Visit to School, With Immigrants

“It is beautiful to have dreams and it is beautiful to be able to fight for them”

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Here is a Vatican translation of the brief remarks Pope Francis made this afternoon as he visited a Catholic school in New York. The comments Pope Francis made off-the-cuff have been transcribed and translated by ZENIT; they are in brackets.


Dear [brothers and sisters, good afternoon],

I am very happy to be with you today, along with this big family which surrounds you. I see your teachers, your parents and your family members. Thank you for letting me come, and I ask pardon from your teachers for “stealing” a few minutes of their class time. [They are all happy about it, I know.]

They tell me that one of the nice things about this school [and this work] is that some of its students, [some of you], come from other places, [and many,] even from other countries. That is nice! Even though I know that it is not easy to have to move and find a new home, new neighbors and new friends. It is not easy. [But one must get started.] At the beginning it can be hard, right? Often you have to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, even a new climate. There is so much to learn! And not just at school [but so many things, even how to play ball.]

The good thing is that we also make new friends. [The new friends we find.] We meet people who open doors for us, who are kind to us. They offer us friendship and understanding, and they try to help us not to feel like strangers, [foreigners. All the effort of people who help us to feel at home. Even though sometimes our imaginations return to our homelands, but we find good people who help us to feel at home.] How nice it is to feel that school, [the places we gather] are a second home. This is not only important for you, but also for your families. School then ends up being one big family. One where, together with our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, our teachers and friends, we learn to help one another, to share our good qualities, to give the best of ourselves, to work as a team, [to play as a team, which is so important] and to pursue our dreams.

Very near here is a very important street named after a man who did a lot for other people. I want to talk a little bit about him. He was the Reverend Martin Luther King. One day he said, “I have a dream”. His dream was that many children, many people could have equal opportunities. His dream was that many children like you could get an education. [He dreamed that many men and women like you could hold their heads high, with the dignity of one who can support himself.] 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. We celebrate all the opportunities which enable you, and us adults, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities. [And so many people that I have greeted and that have introduced themselves to me, also dream with you. They dream of this and because of this, they have gotten involved in this work. They have gotten involved in your lives to accompany you on this path. We all dream.] I know that one of the dreams of your parents and teachers, [and all those who help you — and also Cardinal Dolan, eh? He is a very good man –] is that you can grow up and [can live with happiness.] It is always good to see children smiling. Here I see you smiling. Keep smiling and help bring joy to everyone you meet. [It’s not always easy. In every home, there are problems, there are difficult situations, there are illnesses. But don’t quit dreaming that you can live with joy.] [All of you who are here, children and adults,] you have a right to dream and I am very happy that here, [whether in this school, or here,] in your friends and your teachers, [in all those who come to help] you can find the support you need. Wherever there are dreams, there is joy, 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.

Before going, I want to give you some homework. Can I? 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. And let us also pray so that many other people can share the joy like yours [when you feel that you are accompanied, helped, counseled, even though there can be problems, but there is this peace in your heart from knowing that Jesus never abandons us.]

May God bless [each and every one of you] today and Our Lady protect you. [Thank you.]

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