By Vatican News
Pope Francis met a group of supporters and friends of the organization “A Chance in Life” in the Vatican on Monday morning. The foundation runs what are known as Boys’ and Girls’ Towns all over the world.
The beginning of the organization
The end of the Second World War in Italy left vast numbers of orphans and vulnerable children on the streets. An Irish priest, Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, had the visionary idea of creating a structure called “Boys’ Town” which would provide them with necessary skills, and teach them to be protagonists of their own lives.
The growth of the organization
Now known as “A Chance in Life”, the organization carries forward its founder’s vision internationally with Boys’ and Girls’ Towns in Ethiopia, India, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala and Peru. Together with local partners, it serves over 3,000 children living in impoverished communities. In Italy, among other initiatives, it accompanies young refugees who arrive as unaccompanied minors.
The encouragement of Pope Francis
Speaking to the group in the Vatican, Pope Francis recalled how these initiatives “offer children and adolescents in situations of particular hardship a chance to surmount their difficulties and to realize fully God’s plan for each of them”.
The Pope thanked those who support the organization and praised its “long tradition of commitment to the service of disadvantaged young people in accordance with an educational methodology based on self-governance”. The responsibility of running their own Town is, in fact, central to Monsignor Carroll-Abbing’s vision.
The inspiration of Laudato sì
“In creative fidelity to its original charism”, continued the Pope, “the foundation is making an effort to be more incisive and effective in carrying out its mission in a world that presents ever new educational challenges”. He said he was pleased to know these efforts are inspired by recommendations contained in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, “in the name of an integral ecology aimed at the development of each individual and the world around us”.
Training new generations
Pope Francis reaffirmed the importance of training new generations “in the exercise of an active and participatory citizenship centred on the human person and care for the environment”. He acknowledged that technological innovation is also needed to achieve these goals. If well motivated, young people will be able to attain them”, the Pope concluded, “since they have been born and raised in today’s fast-paced technological world”.