Scholas Ocurrentes defines itself as "a youth movement for education that seeks to give back to us the meaning of what we do through sports, art and technology. We are committed to creating an inclusive and transformative environment, where every young person can develop their potential and contribute positively to the world around them".
On the morning of August 3, the headquarters of Cascais, in Portugal, was visited by Pope Francis, in one of his official acts for the World Youth Day which is being held this year in Lisbon.
The President of Scholas Ocurrentes received the Pope and gave a welcoming greeting, in which he pointed out that "as you yourself have said on several occasions, education today requires going back to the origins to integrate in every young person the language of the heart with the language of the mind and the language of the hands. That is why Scholas, since you were bishop in Buenos Aires, has been giving them a meaningful life through sports, art and technology.
Then, three young people belonging to different religions gave their testimonies: Paulo Esaka Oliveira da Silva (Evangelical), Mariana dos Santos Barradas (Catholic) and Aladje Dabo (Muslim).
Paulo Esaka pointed out that "Scholas is a community where several people can enter, several people can participate and have a place to express themselves, to be able to show their feelings, to show what they live day by day, and I think that is Scholas itself (...)". For her part, Mariana dos Santos said that for her "this project was much more than an opportunity. It was really an encounter where not only did I meet different people, but I was also able to really build bridges with the community and have the opportunity to really get to know these people that we don't see so often, we even have immense differences with us. However in these differences we find our commonalities (...)".
To conclude the testimonies, Aladje Dabo indicated that "as soon as I met Scholas I fell in love with it because it also responds to my passions. One of my passions is precisely to contribute to the welfare of the community, to care for my neighbor, and that is the essence of Scholas (...) Because it does not see race, it does not see religion, it does not see our culture per se, but it values interculturality (...)".
A 3 kilometer mural
The Pope was also presented with a 3-kilometer artistic mural, and Francis had a relaxed chat with the young people present. He told them, in Spanish, that "a life without crisis is an aseptic life (...), it has no taste at all". He added that "crises must be assumed and resolved (...) and rarely alone". He invited the young people to live their problems in community, since together it is easier to face problems. Speaking of the biblical account of Creation, he reflected on how God transforms chaos into cosmos. "The same thing happens in our lives," he said.
The Pope was then invited to paint on the mural. At the end of the event, Francis gave Scholas Ocurrentes an icon representing the Good Samaritan. He explained the image to those present and commented that "sometimes in life you have to get your hands dirty so as not to get your heart dirty". The icon is modern, but made faithfully following the traditional techniques of egg tempera painting on a board prepared with gold leaf.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope gave his blessing and asked the young people to pray for him.
On leaving the building, Francis, accompanied by the religious leaders present, attended the planting of an olive tree of peace by the young people.
He then went to the Apostolic Nunciature for lunch. The next event will be at 4:45 p.m. (Lisbon time), the first big meeting with young people from all over the world, which will take place in the Eduardo VII Park, in the center of Lisbon.