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Building Bridges Across the Americas

"This is a great challenge to renounce violence, as you have said, with concrete actions... Violence always destroys nature. It never constructs; it always destroys. We need the prophecy of nonviolence and you are the ones to bring this forward." Pope Francis, responding to students in Building Bridges North-South, February 24, 2022



Hosted by Loyola University Chicago, in partnership with the Holy See.

Building Bridges North-South Across the Americas

The Inaugural event of the Building Bridges Initiative brought together 130 students who joined from 58 different universities in 21 countries. They met in regional groups many times during January and February of 2022 in Canada/USA, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Brazil, and other parts of South America. We challenged students to share with each other their personal experiences with migration and to discuss the factors pushing people to move away, pulling people in certain directions, and what is the experience of the migrant and community. The students shared and listened, discussing their diverse experiences with unemployment, violence, climate disasters, social stigma, and more. 


Each group selected two students to represent them in a dialogue with Pope Francis, which took place in February 2022. This was the first such event, livestreamed with direct dialogue and engagement between the Pope and students with a shared voice across such a broad region of the world. In an extraordinary set of conversations, the Holy Father listened carefully, for example, to a young woman joining from her dormitory in the USA, a young man at his university in Brazil, and another from a school in Mexico. He spoke with 16 students in total, calling them by name and affirming their experiences while sharing his own. Pope Francis encouraged them to be persistent, to exercise their creativity and strength and agency. 


Meeting Pope Francis

After Building Bridges North-South, the faculty who organized the event and lead the Initiative were invited to meet with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace. He surprised us with his encouragement to stir up trouble.

Pope Francis at Loyola

Loyolans gathered on campus to watch the historic virtual encounter between university students and the Holy Father

Follow Synod 2021-24

The “Synod on Synodality” provides an opportunity for reflection: what would it look like for me, for my community, to learn to proceed in the synodal way, through “spiritual conversation” and shared discernment?


The Building Bridges Initiative provides unique opportunities to students and they are active, continuing to pursue the common good in light of their experience with Pope Francis. Here you wlll find a growing list of activities in development and underway, from students and faculty, inspired by experience with the Building Bridges Initiative.

The Building Bridges Initiative needs your support!