Dr. Rogelio Garcia Contreras, professor of international studies and advisor to the Social Entrepreneurship Program at the University of St. Thomas (UST) in Houston, Tex., recently met Pope Francis during a trip to Rome to participate in the first Conference for Impact Investment titled “Investing for the Poor,” according to the University website.
Contreras, along with 100 other conference attendees had the chance to greet the Holy Father face-to-face and speak with him during a private audience held during the invitation-only conference.
“He listens, and he’s very cordial, very humble,” Contreras said on the UST website, “I got the feeling that everybody in the room was more concerned about the protocol than he was.”
In addition, Pope Francis reportedly gave a discourse on the importance of investing for the poor and developing business approaches that are more humane and ethical. His Holiness was “inspiring, humble, and very accessible,” continued Dr. Contreras, “Meeting the Pope was a blessing in every sense of the word.”
The conference was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Catholic Relief Services, and the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. According to the UST website, it included the “best and most influential people in the field of development, human rights, and impact investment.”
Contreras said that he learned many things he can apply to the work of UST’s Social Entrepreneurship Program, “a service-learning co-curricular program” that allows students the opportunity to “put in practice the theories and techniques on development and poverty alleviation” discussed in their coursework, according to the University.
Contreras continued, “I asked Pope Francis to pray for our program and for the work we are trying to do. He said he will.”
The University of St. Thomas is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.
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