In advance of World Youth Day, Pope Francis shared a special message with young people at St. Anne's parish in Peñitas, Texas in the Diocese of Brownsville. The parish, which has long received support from Catholic Extension, sits near the U.S.-Mexico border in one of the most impoverished and densely Catholic areas of the United States. The papal message came on the parish's feast day of St. Anne, as thousands of Catholic youth gathered in Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day festivities.
Pope Francis delivered his message in Spanish, urging Brownsville youth to live life to the fullest while doing their best to spread hope and mercy, despite the obstacles they are facing.
Here are his full translated remarks:
Dear young people of the Diocese of Brownsville, gathered on the feast day of Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. I know that you are gathered in Texas, very close to Mexico, very close to Latin America. And I know that you are gathered to come together spiritually with World Youth Day in Krakow. I want to be close to you. I want to tell you to always look forward, always look towards the horizon, don’t let life put walls in front of you, always look at the horizon. Always have courage to want more, more, more … with courage, but, at the same time, do not forget to look back to the heritage you have received from your ancestors, from your grandparents, from your parents; to the legacy of faith that you now have in your hands, as you look forward.
I know that some of you will ask me: “Father, yes, you tell us to look at the horizon and to remember things, but today, what do I do?” Play life to the full! Today, take life as it comes and do good to others. In the world today, a game is being played out in which there is no room for substitutes: either you’re in the team or you’re out. Take the memories you’ve inherited, look towards the horizon and today, grasp life and carry it forward, use it productively, make it fruitful. God calls you to be fruitful! God calls you to transmit this life to others. God calls you to create hope. God calls you to receive mercy and show mercy to others. God calls you to be happy. Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid. Play life to the full! That is life.
I wish you a good meeting of young people, united to World Youth Day, united with young people who are in Krakow. Live enthusiastically and go forward! May the Virgin Mary take great care of you and may Jesus bless you. And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.
Catholic Extension has a long history of support in the Diocese of Brownsville. Beginning with a grant of just $300 in April 1906 to help build a church in the town of La Lomita, Texas, Catholic Extension has since granted a total of more than $11.1 million to the diocese. In just the last five years alone, Catholic Extension has provided $1.8M in funding, or an average of over $360,000 per year, to help in areas such as operational support for parishes and missions, matching grants for church renovation and expansion, education and certification of lay leaders across the diocese, youth ministry, religious ministry and more.
In 2014, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were recognized as the 2014-15 Catholic Extension Lumen Christi Award Recipients, receiving an additional grant of $50,000 to support their work at the Proyecto Desarollo Humano in Peñitas near St. Anne's parish. Catholic Extension continues to support these sisters with an annual grant of $20,000 to help with their operations and ministry.
Watch the Pope's message below: