In the News

The Pope is here, and he's got an important message for teens

It's official, Pope Francis has landed in Washington, D.C. for his first visit to the United States where he'll travel and speak in our nation's capitol, New York City and Philadelphia. He'll be busy making speeches, leading prayers and mass, visiting schools and working at the World Meeting of Families, but Pope Francis already took the time to make sure he's getting his message out to Americans in a very special meeting.

In a virtual Town Hall discussion, ABC News helped Pope Francis address American's questions about life and faith, and he had one super important message for today's youth: be brave.

The message came through loud and clear when the Pope asked one teen to do something a little crazy: sing in front of everyone.

According to the Chicago Tribune, 17-year-old Valerie Herrera had been chosen as one of two students to represent her Chicago-based school, Cristo Rey Jesuit High, in the town hall. When it was Valerie's turn to talk to the pope, she shared a personal story about her struggle with vitiligo, a condition which causes skin to be splotchy and discolored, and how she overcame the bullying she faced because of it: by singing. Little did she expect, though, that her admission would lead to a very special request from the pope himself when he said, "May I ask of you to sing a song for me?"

Valerie told the Chicago Tribune that she was nervous at first, but when Pope Francis encouraged her, "Be courageous!" she finally found the words for the first hymn her mother ever taught her, "By You, Mary." "Even when I started singing, my voice was shaking, too, from the excitement and the nerves,” Valerie admitted. Though Valerie was scared, she powered through to share her gift with the Pope—and the world. "It doesn't just apply to me," Valerie said about Pope Francis's advice, "but to anyone else — to show your talents, just be courageous. Although people might think you're different, be courageous and show who you really are."

According to Time, Pope Francis agrees. "You have the strength to overcome," he advised young people all across America. "Don’t be scared. Don’t stop. There’s nothing worse than a young person who has retired before his or her time."


Hear that, GL girls? Get ready to get out there and be brave, because it's one of the best things you can be.

Watch the video of Valerie's inspiring impromptu performance below.

What do you think about the Pope's message to teens? Are you excited for his United States visit?

Photo credit: USA Today


by Ilana Bernstein | 2/1/2016