Friday, November 15, 2013

Bold and beautiful: GW Catholic's speech at GW inter-faith dinner

Good evening, my name is Olivia Bee and I am a senior in the Elliott of school of international affairs. I am a Greek outreach coordinator for GW Catholics at the Newman Center.

I would like to begin with a reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew:  “The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

I chose this passage because it perfectly reflects the fact that social justice is at the absolute core of my Catholic faith and the Catholic Church’s teachings. This is because Jesus taught us, as portrayed in the passage, that those who will be saved are the people who helped others in their times of need. As a result, the Catholic Church keeps social justice at its very core. It does so by engaging in charitable work across the world, from mission trips to the NGO Catholic Charities. In this way the church has made it its mission to improve the lives of millions of people and continue its commitment to social justice.

At the Newman Center here on GW’s campus we have found Pope Francis to be an incredible role model for the pursuit of social justice through the lens of our faith. Pope Francis has worked tirelessly to promote social justice, most notably through the virtue of love. He has done so because love is at the very core of Catholicism, and I know this is not at all unique to my own faith. Pope Francis has shown us that by being truly loving we can successfully and most effectively promote social justice. He has done this most prominently by stressing the importance of the dignity of every human being, no matter his or her ethnicity, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, age, or gender. He has helped us fully understand that we are all children of God, and as a result each one of us deserves love.

At the Newman Center we try to exude these values daily by doing our best to help the least among us. We have monthly volunteer opportunities with the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Theresa's sisters, who serve men and women who are homeless or have AIDS, there are weekly visits to juvenile detention centers as part of the Justice for Juniors program, we volunteer in soup kitchens and make sandwiches for the homeless in DC, during our spring break we lead a service trip to Appalachia and we work towards creating a culture of life on this campus in an effort to preserve the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. Finally, we offer a smile, kind word, food, or a prayer to the homeless around Foggy Bottom and DC.

The church’s focus on social justice through love and aiding the least among us is what makes me most proud to be Catholic. Therefore, I urge each of you to find this pride in your faith and practice social justice through love, because as Pope Francis said, “The measure of the greatness of society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.”

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