Here is the translation of Pope Francis' address to school children at Our Lady, Queen of the Angels School in Harlem on Sept. 25, 2015.
I am very happy to be with you today, along with this big family which surrounds you. I see your teachers, your parents and your family members. Thank you for letting me come, and I ask officially pardon from your teachers for “stealing” a few minutes of their class time!
They tell me that one of the nice things about this school and about the work that is being done here is that some of its students here, some of you, come from other places, and many from other countries. That is nice! Even though I know that it is not always easy to have to move and find a new home, new neighbors and new friends. It is not easy, but one has to begin. At the beginning it can be hard and tiring, right? At times you have to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, even a new climate. There is so much to learn! And not just the work at school, but many other things. You were playing with your ball.
The good thing is that we also make new friends, the good friends that we find. We meet people who open doors for us, who are kind to us. They offer us friendship and understanding, and they try to help us not to feel like strangers, like foreigners. It is the work being done by people who help us feel at home. Although sometimes our imagination take us back to our homeland, but we find good people to help us feel at home.
How nice it is to feel that school, that meeting places, are a second home. This is not only important for you, but also for your families. So school then ends up being one big family for all. One where, together with our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, our teachers and friends, we learn to help one another, to share our good qualities, to give the best of ourselves, to work as a team, to play as a team, that’s very important as well, and to pursue our goals.
Very near here there is a very important street named after a person who did a lot for other people. I want to talk a little bit about him with you. He was the Reverend Martin Luther King. One day he said, “I have a dream”. He dreamt that many children, many people could have equal opportunities. His dream was that many children like you could get an education. He dreamt that many men and women like you could keep their head high with the dignity of those who can earn their keep. It is beautiful to have dreams. It is beautiful to be able to fight for those dreams. Don’t forget about that.
Today we want to keep dreaming. We celebrate all the opportunities which enable you, and us adults, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities. So many here that I’ve been introduced to that also dreamt with you, that dreamt about this, and that is why they have become involved in this kind of work, in your lives, to go with you along this path. We all dream.
I know that one of the dreams of your parents and teachers and all those that help you, and also Cardinal Dolan as well, he’s a very good man, the dream is that you can grow up and be happy. Here I see you smiling. It is always good to see children smiling. Keep smiling and help bring joy to everyone you meet. There are others in households that are in difficult situations, sickness. But keep dreaming of living with joy. Everyone here, children and adults, you have a right to dream and I am very happy that whether at school, here in this school, in your friends and your teachers, you can find the support you need.
Wherever there are dreams, there is joy, Jesus is always present. Because Jesus is joy, and he wants to help us to feel that joy every day of our lives. Now who serves sadness, who serves distrust, the enemy and evil desires. Who’s to blame for that? The devil, the devil, the devil sows sadness because he does not want to see us happy, he does not want us to dream. Whether there is joy Jesus is always present, because Jesus is joy and he wants to help us to feel that joy every day of our lives.
Before going, I want to give you some homework. Can I? It is simple , but a very important one. Please don’t forget to pray for me, so that I can share with many people the joy of Jesus. And let us also pray so that many people can share the joy like yours, like when you feel accompanied, assisted, when you feel that you’re getting advice. There may be problems of course, but you have peace in your heart because Jesus will never abandon you. May god bless you and everyone here and our lady protect you.
Now can you sing something? Who is the boldest one? (two girls sing)
Thank you very much. (Then in English) Thank you very much.
All together one song and then we are going to pray to the lord, say the lord’s prayer. Sing something, yes.
Thank you. Now we’re going to pray. Altogether, we’re going to say the lord’s prayer.
(crowd recites prayer)
God almighty, father son, holy spirit. Pray for me. (In English) Don’t forget the homework.