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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Overbrook Academy Students Participate in UN Conferences
The girls joined with the C-Fam NGO and spoke in favor of the right to life, the dignity of woman, and family values.

outside the UN
A different view of New York City...

April 23, 2009. A special mission brought 23 students from Overbrook Academy, a language academy and boarding school in Warwick, Rhode Island, to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City.

From March 1 – 7, the girls participated in several conferences as members of an NGO (non-governmental organization) called C-Fam. C-FAM stands for Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Its special mission is to be the eyes and ears of the Catholic Church at the UN and to keep Catholics worldwide informed about what happens there. 

The students were accompanied by their civics teacher, who is a Regnum Christi member. She had prepared them for 2 weeks in advance with a special training course. They were also accompanied by one of the coworkers who is giving a year at Overbrook Academy.

Each day began with Mass, followed by a meeting to go over the day’s objectives. The girls then spent 7 to 8 hours at the United Nations. At the end of the day, they attended a meeting with the directive team of C-Fam.

Their mission was threefold:
• To get to know the delegates from the various countries, and to talk to them about the dignity of life, the rights of the unborn, and the true dignity of woman.
• To participate in the various talks given by the UN Commission on the Status of Woman, and to support the delegation from the Holy See.
• To give witness of true charity by their words and actions, so as to share Christ’s love with all of the delegates and participants at the United Nations.

A battle for values

The following topics were discussed in
girl at UN
Testing the view from behind the Mexican delegate's desk.
the UN talks:
• Sicknesses in the world, and how condom use and abortion should be more widely promoted.
• Children’s right to decide their own gender.
• The legalization of prostitution.
• Same-sex couples’ right to marriage and adoption.

The Overbrook Academy students were able to share their point of view on these topics, defending the teachings of the Catholic Church with clarity, firmness, and charity. On occasions, their contributions met up with aggressive responses from some of the speakers or were simply ignored.

The girls got to know many delegates from various countries and spoke with them about supporting the right to life and promoting the true dignity of woman. They were especially well received by the delegates from African countries who seemed to value the students’ ideas on family values.
Proud to
UN logo
"We have never felt so proud about being able to defend our faith.”
defend their faith

This experience made a big impact on the girls, who experienced firsthand what it means to give public witness to their faith in front of an audience that is often indifferent and even hostile.

Some commented that they had never felt so rejected just for being Catholic and pro-life, but at the same time, they said they had “never felt so proud about being able to defend our faith.”

Other girls said that they felt “deeply sorry for those speakers and delegates who have not had the chance to know the truth, or who just don’t know Christ and what he has done for them.” They said, “We can’t be angry at them for how they reacted to us. What we can do is pray and share Christ’s love with them.”

The girls also left with a deeper sense of responsibility for the needs of the world, and for the urgency of sharing Christ with those who make decisions on a global level. But on a level closer to home, they also realized how important it is to be authentically charitable with those closest to them.

“We saw how much good we can do by living charity amongst ourselves, speaking well about other girls when we are one-on-one, supporting and encouraging when there are difficult situations, and above all, praying for each other. The more we lived charity amongst ourselves, the easier it was to live that same charity with the different people we met during the day,” one said.

A contagious witness

An important part of their mission at the
outside UN
The Overbrook Academy students with their civics teacher and chaperones outside the UN building.
UN was to support other Catholics who often find themselves almost alone on the battlefield. There is strength in numbers, the girls realized.

“We saw that every time we said something in a talk, suddenly the other Catholics who were there started to raise their hand to speak, to defend the Church too,” one student said.

The girls also shared a special moment with the pastor of the church where they went to daily Mass during their week in New York. The pastor told them how glad he was to see them doing their morning prayers together and living the Mass so fervently. He told them several times that they are Christ’s hope for the Church, and that God was counting on them to build the Church in a way that they could not even imagine. He also encouraged them to bring their faith and love for the Eucharist back to their own countries when they returned home, since this was the best contribution they could make to the Church.

After their trip, the students expressed their gratitude to the Overbrook Academy teachers and staff for having given them the opportunity to participate in the mission.



Related links

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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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