Papal Nuncio: It is love that will attract believers

FAIRFIELD—As Sacred Heart University kicked-off its 10th anniversary celebration of the Holy Spirit Chapel, it warmly welcomed Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio of the United States to speak about the Holy Father’s recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive).

“Young people are the now of God,” the archbishop addressed a room filled with young people, which, faculty members commented, provided the perfect atmosphere for a discussion on the post-synodal response document which focuses on youth, faith and vocational discernment.

The apostolic nuncio echoed the words of Pope Francis as he encouraged the gathered, saying, “God calls each of us by name to serve Him in a unique way. God calls you to holiness by being yourself.”

He explained that Christianity is not simply teaching and rules but it is a proclamation. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, the nuncio said, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

Archbishop Pierre encouraged the young people to be themselves, exactly as they are and to proclaim the faith through the way they live their lives. The archbishop explained that in a difficult world, Pope Francis wants young people to know that they are priceless, they are loved and that there is great value in every human life, shown to us through God’s mercy and love.

“The Holy Father wants us to examine whether our faith is a series of teachings or if it is something alive…an encounter with a person, the Risen Lord,” said the nuncio. He posed the question, “Is He alive in you?”

During the discussion portion of the colloquium presentation, a CIT faculty member addressed what the nuncio said about ‘being yourself,’ asking what those who feel like they cannot be themselves should do. The nuncio responded that “even though a lot of times we do not feel loved, Jesus says, ‘I love you.’” And it is this love, the archbishop explained, that we must show to one another.

“It is love,” the archbishop said, “not being preached at, that will attract believers,” explaining that the attractiveness of Christianity will show through the lives of young people.

“We cannot be Christians alone,” said the nuncio, “being a Christian is belonging to a person through community.” The archbishop explained that this was how the early Church was started, through the apostles’ testimonies and the witnesses they gave of their encounters with Christ.

When asked what young people in the U.S. can learn from young people in other countries, the nuncio, who has worked in ten different countries, said that “the U.S. is a place where you meet the whole world.”

“We are different and difference is a beauty,” Archbishop Pierre said. “We are different but we are the same.”

The nuncio spoke about the importance of building fraternity. “Are we today in the U.S. building fraternity or not?” he asked. “I am not always certain of that. Do we prefer this polarization? This has to do with our faith,” said the nuncio.

Archbishop Pierre is a long-time member of the Sacred Heart University family, having received an honorary doctorate from the university in 2017.

The events of the 10th anniversary celebration continued with a Mass in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit celebrated by Archbishop Pierre and a youth festival which features displays of work by campus ministry and volunteer programs and service learning.

By Elizabeth Clyons

About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s eight colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 385 Colleges–2020 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 267 Business Schools–2018 Edition. Sacred Heart has a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater.

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