|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.
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.
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
A battle for values
The following topics were discussed in
the UN talks:
|Testing the view from behind the Mexican delegate's desk.|
• 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.
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.
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.
defend their faith
|"We have never felt so proud about being able to defend our 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
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
A contagious witness
An important part of their mission at the
|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.
trip, the students expressed their gratitude to the Overbrook Academy
teachers and staff for having given them the opportunity to
participate in the mission.