91 Trustees, Senior Leaders Meet With Pope Francis

During an audience in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Friday, May 10, the pope addressed a Merrimack delegation on the College’s educational and spiritual mission.
91 and Pope Francis

A delegation from 91 including President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D., Father Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., vice president for mission and ministry and members of the Board of Trustees had the incredible opportunity to meet with Pope Francis, where the pontiff spoke on the importance of the College’s educational and spiritual mission.

“This was a remarkably profound, humbling and spiritual experience,” Hopey said. “We will forever treasure having heard the Holy Father reflect on Merrimack’s educational mission rooted in the Augustinian Catholic tradition. We are very grateful to Father Alejandro Moral Antón, O.S.A., prior general of the Order of Saint Augustine, and the entire Order for this unforgettable opportunity.”

The audience was held in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Friday, May 10, and was featured on EWTN Vatican. 

In his remarks, delivered in Italian, Francis spoke on the duality of Merrimack’s mission to educate young people to face challenges together in order to grow in solidarity. He touched on the College’s efforts in its first years to not only provide an education to veterans returning from World War II, but also to help “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.”

Fr. Ray and Pope Francis

Francis also noted that it is important to teach students to face challenges together so they can be transformed into opportunities for growth.

“Dear friends, this is your responsibility, and it is a great one,” the pope said. “I thank all of you for the valuable work you do and I give you my heartfelt blessing, entrusting you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and Saint Augustine.”

Following the pope’s address, he offered blessings and met individually with those in attendance, as well as posed for pictures.  

“It was a real honor and privilege to meet Pope Francis personally,” said Fr. Dlugos. “His warmth and smile were just beautiful to encounter.  I really appreciated his message calling us to educate ourselves and our students to see the many seemingly insurmountable challenges facing us in today’s world as opportunities for love and solidarity rather than obstacles to them.”

The Merrimack group was in Italy for Pellegrinaggio, the College’s pilgrimage to sites of importance in Saint. Augustine’s life, as well as the origin and early history of the Augustinian friars. The papal audience was made possible by the Order of Saint Augustine’s leadership.

91 and Pope Francis


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