top of page

Pope Francis asks the Augustinians of Merrimack College to continue to foster love and solidarity beyond the ‘perimeter of the classroom’

The president and board of trustees of Merrimack College had a very special experience on the morning of Saturday 11th May when they were received by the Holy Father in a private audience in the Clementine Hall. It was the icing on the cake at the end of an Italian pilgrimage following in the footsteps of St Augustine

Together with the Prior General and his Council, it was an emotional gathering for all those present, especially during the personal greeting of the Holy Father who recalled in his speech the almost 80 years of unparallelled educational mission carried out by the College, based in Massachusetts, USA.

It is worth noting that the history of the College is one defined by the Second World War. It was in 1947 that Augustinian friars were asked to establish a college in order to support young veterans returning from the war. The primary objective was to offer them, through study and the school community, "a path to fundamental rebirth". "Clearly,”, Pope Francis said, “It was not enough to offer these young people, veterans of traumatic experiences, witnesses to the horrors of war, courses in academic studies. It was necessary to give them back meaning, hope and faith in the future, enriching their minds, yes, but also rekindling their hearts and restoring light to their lives."

This path, "from the mind to the heart, and from the heart to the hands", these "three languages", must be blended, the Holy Father continued, so that "we think what we feel and do; we feel what we think and do; we do what we feel and think."

Crisis and challenges: an opportunity for growth

The current context of economic, financial, employment, political, environmental, demographic, migratory and moral crises must be, in the words of the Bishop of Rome, an opportunity for growth, for facing challenges "without allowing ourselves to be crushed by them."

To this end, and following in the footsteps of the papacy of Benedict XVI, Francis once again stressed the importance of love as a redemptive vehicle. "It is not science that redeems man. Man is redeemed by love", he recalled, and then urged those present - who are responsible for the training of 5,700 undergraduate and postgraduate students - to encourage "the new generations to approach difficulties as opportunities, not so much to launch themselves towards a future full of money and success, but one of love: to build humanity together". In other words, it is a matter of teaching young women and men "to identify and direct available resources, with creative planning, towards models of personal and social living marked by justice and mercy."

It is true," the Pope continued, "that continuing globalisation has negative aspects" - naming isolation, marginalisation, and the culture of waste as examples - while at the same time adding that "it also has positive aspects, such as the potential to amplify and magnify solidarity and to promote equity, in newly discovered ways previously unknown to those who went before us, as we are seeing now on the occasion of climate catastrophes and wars."

A painting for the Curia as a gesture of thanks

To mark the occasion of this visit, Merrimack College presented the Prior General and the Curia with a beautiful oil painting by artist Vernon Adams entitled An unlikely Aquiliegia: North African Saint of Hippo



bottom of page