The Trinity community mourns the death of Fr. Robert Drinan, a Jesuit priest, educator, former member of Congress and activist who passed away on January 28. Fr. Drinan was recently on Trinity’s campus on January 3 to celebrate a special mass at the request of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a 1962 graduate of Trinity; she wanted a mass of remembrance for the children of Darfur and Katrina at her alma mater the day before she was sworn in as Speaker.
In his homily, Fr. Drinan spoke of the tragedies afflicting children around the world and challenged those who gathered for mass: “Today we re-pledge ourselves to pray and work for those children.”
The Trinity community can think of no better tribute to Fr. Drinan than to reprint the beautiful and powerful homily he gave at Trinity, one of his last public statements in a long and distinguished career. His eloquent and moving words will be with us always.
Remarks of Robert F. Drinan, S.J.
Mass Honoring Speaker-Elect Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi
January 3, 2007 in Notre Dame Chapel at Trinty
Today is a new epiphany for all of us, for our country and for the world.
Epiphany brought the three Magi to worship the new born child. We are here to venerate that child and to pledge that the message of this infant Jesus will be followed in our country and throughout the universe.
This is a new and wonderful moment for all of us.
The new Congress has 16 percent women and for the first time the Speaker is a mother.
We re-pledge our lives to the love of children. In this regard the Holy See has shown us the way. In 1981 the Vatican was the fifth nation of the Earth to ratify the United Nations Covenant on the Rights of the Child. That magnificent treaty has now been ratified by all of the 192 nations in the world — except Somalia and, we say it with shame, the United States.
The children protected by the U.N. Covenant now number some three billion, almost one-half of the 6.4 billion in the world.
Today we re-pledge ourselves to pray and work for those children. We must continue to be shocked that 31,000 of those children will die today and every day from diseases and malnutrition that are clearly preventable.
Imagine what the world would think of the United States if the health and welfare of children everywhere became the top objective of America’s foreign policy! It could happen — and it could happen soon — if enough people cared.
Toady at this moving and unforgettable Mass we gather to pray, to reflect and once again commit our lives to carrying out the faith we have that the needs of every child are the needs of Jesus Christ himself. The tragedies of the children of Darfur and the victims of Katrina have made us feel guilty for the neglect of the young people in these nations. That guilt has to be developed so that the United States and other developed countries will use their resources to help the 800 million people in the world who are chronically malnourished.
We must also remember the 100 million children who are not enrolled in any school — and that 70 percent of these children are girls.
In addition, children are still being injured by land mines placed by the United States in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Vietnam, Kuwait and elsewhere.
We have come to this beautiful place to pray for our new leaders and for ourselves. We are ashamed that we have been so careless and thoughtless about the rights of children.
We cannot forget Christ’s personal love of children and his affirmation that “whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren you do for me.”
We are increasingly aware that the world — especially the 48 Islamic nations — have the deepest doubts about the intentions and activities of the United States. They know that the United States has less than five percent of the world’s total population but consumes 40 percent of its resources.
We pledge again before the Blessed Sacrament that we will deepen our love for all children. It is depressing to realize that only 18 percent of America’s children are registered in Head Start and that an appalling number do not graduate from high school.
We are aware at this holy place of the weakness of our faith and the fragility of our love.
Let us reexamine our convictions, our commitments and our courage. Our convictions and our commitments are clear and certain to us. But do we have the courage to carry them out?
God has great hopes for what this nation will do in the near future. We are here to ask for the courage to carry out God’s hopes and aspirations.
Let us not disappoint our redeemer.
We learn things in prayer that we otherwise would never know. Let us pray now and always.
If a plane crashed this afternoon at Dulles with 310 children aboard, the whole world would cry and cry and cry.
But a tragedy like that happens 100 times each day — 31,000 children every day — needlessly die because the heedlessness of all of us.
President Kennedy once said that those who “make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”
We pray here today and ask God’s help in our ardent desires to “make peaceful revolution possible.”