Since I am the graduate student coordinator of this new initiative, this question is one of the most difficult for me to answer – and yet it’s also one of the most exciting. Officially, The Francis Project: Hoyas for Human Dignity and Life will support awareness of the Catholic understanding of the culture of life and will address key human dignity and life issues in ways appropriate to our student community. Supporting awareness of these issues and finding ways to connect with the student community, however, takes some creativity.
Basically speaking, The Francis Project is a pro-life initiative – but it advocates a kind of “pro-life” that is more nuanced the political term. The Francis Project promotes the comprehensive notion of pro-life – meaning that its overarching goal is to promote human dignity at every moment of life. We draw upon the insights and actions of Pope Francis, who has been embodying Catholic Social Teaching and the roots of the Gospel message. He challenges us – as an organization and as human beings – to ask the tough questions:
- Who are we forgetting?
- Who are our brothers and our sisters?
- Who is on the margins, and how can we go to them?
- How can we put theory into practice?
The Francis Project was formed to help students answer those kinds of questions. It exists to help students who are already working against the current “throwaway culture” and who strive to show through their actions that every life matters. Georgetown is pretty great; we already have a lot of student groups who engage with issues of human dignity. The Francis Project’s goals include lifting up these student groups so that they have greater visibility and therefore greater opportunity for engagement and collaboration.
Just last month, student groups came together at The Francis Project’s event in order to showcase the great pro-dignity work they have been doing. For example, (SSTOP) Students Stopping the Trafficking of People gave out fair-trade chocolate on Halloween to raise awareness about slavery in the chocolate trade. The Knights of Columbus held weekly pasta dinners and donated all proceeds to the Special Olympics. Right to Life hosted a panel on the death penalty. The Catholic Daughters participated in “Crop Mob,” helping Bread for the City to harvest produce for its food banks.
The long-term goal of The Francis Project is to connect these student groups and help them work together towards any shared goals they may have. Do you have ideas for collaboration, education, or anything else related to human dignity? You can email email@example.com, or check out its Facebook or Twitter page to learn more and to engage.
Graduate Student Coordinator, The Francis Project: Hoyas for Human Dignity and Life