CMSA Spends Day at United Nations to Honor Pope Francis’ World Day of the Poor

By Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor

A group of students spent the day at the United Nations in order to honor Pope Francis’ World Day of the Poor, led by Campus Ministry and Social Action and campus minister, Conor Reidy. 

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis’ World Day of the Poor is observed on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar, emphasizing solidarity amongst members of your community who are in need. This year, the observance date was Sunday, Nov. 13.

The day before the trip, Reidy told The Quadrangle that attending this event at the UN might be an opportunity to show students the importance of understanding each other and building knowledge from various perspectives. 

“It’s so important to hear the ways in which we can tie our international economic development work from the stance of our Catholic faith to what the wider world is doing and how to best partner and communicate across lines of difference,” Reidy said. “I think one of my passions is teaching students about dialogue practices. I think, you know, not debate, debate is where we would have a conversation I try to win you over and not discussion where you and I would have a discussion and one of us might be trying to convince the other something else. With dialogue is where we really try to come to better understand one another and that’s where I think I really hope that this will be a great dialogue with many different backgrounds that can kind of come to common understandings.”

The event consisted of informative sessions from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., including panel discussions on international relations with different UN moderators and leaders from several churches and institutions. Afterwards, attendees toured the UN building.

The panel which stood out to two Manhattan College student attendees was Fordham University’s graduate program in International Political Economy and Development discussion on the global poverty index.

“For me, given that I don’t necessarily want to be a UN ambassador, [my favorite section was] the beginning section on the global poverty index,” junior peace and justice studies and philosophy major, Melannie Estrella, said. “I think because they were talking about it in comparison to other indexes and how it focuses not just on the needs of like, housing, water and food, but they also focus on gender inequality and education through illiteracy, and so they focus on what is the absolute need of the people in these places? And so once we’ve managed to lower those scores or those rates like I said, we’re helping the planet. So I felt like that was for me, that was what was most profound.” 

Christopher Belden, junior triple major in history, economics and peace and justice studies, thought hearing from professionals in international relations was an opportunity to further learn about the field he wants to enter in the future.

“Rather than just hearing the young professionals talk about their path to working in the UN, they actually gave us a lot of tips of how you should go about pursuing a career in international relations, which I took a lot of stuff away from as well,” Belden said.

The experience touring the UN was another component of the trip attendees thought was unique. 

“I have never been to the UN so this is actually one of the reasons why I wanted to go. It was absolutely an amazing experience. Very, like surreal experience walking, being able to see where Security Council sits and we were able to go see these seats, the upper seats, not the member seats, but the special organization seats in the General Assembly,” Belden said. “In two of the rooms today, we actually were able to walk in while they were having an ongoing meeting, which was extremely cool, and surprising. So it was definitely an amazing experience.”

Reidy emphasizes how students might learn more about how connected their passions are through exposure and education. 

          “I hope that maybe the students will learn a little bit more about the role of the Catholic Church has in places like the United Nations, and how it’s applicable and easy to find a passion for both maybe your faith journey and your passion for international work, and how they can work together really well. And of course, not only Catholic students, we have several students of many different faith backgrounds are attending with us,” Reidy said.