Rosary Academy senior Alex Bohn called it the “Scholarship of a Lifetime.”
The scholarship funded Bohn’s eight-day trip to Rome this past summer, where she participated in a conference of the Laudato Sì Challenge (LSC), a Vatican led movement which joins together faith communities and public and private sectors in order to develop initiatives designed to stave off the destruction of the planet caused by climate change and bring measurable relief to the world’s poorest regions.
Bohn, who was by far the youngest of the participants, had a seat at the table when organizations presented projects to the board of the Laudato Sì Challenge for consideration.
“It was really great to meet a whole bunch of people who made their careers off helping people and putting other people first, which is really inspiring,” Bohn said. “I had always kind of wanted something like that in the future but didn’t think there was a career out of that until I met all these amazing people.”
The scholarship was awarded by Frank DiCrisi, Rosary consultative board member, board member of the Laudato Si Action Platform and Laudato Sì Challenge and a parent of two Rosary graduates and a Servite graduate.
“She, to me and to my family, represents the charism that is Rosary,” DiCrisi said of Bohn. “It doesn’t matter if she is sitting next to someone she doesn’t know, somebody who is downtrodden, she wants to help them. She embodies that. She represents her family well. She is exceedingly bright. She represents her school well. She has shown an interest in helping the dear neighbor without distinction.”
Projects implemented by the LSC include the recent delivery of 75,000 servings of milk to a camp in Africa.
The LSC provided a $300,000 contribution to a philanthropic organization to invest in a social enterprise called Soufra, a women-run catering company turned food truck business operating in Burj El Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp located in the suburbs of Beirut.
The LSC also generated $300,000 to put the final touches on “The Great Green Wall,” a tree implementation project spread across 8,000 kilometers in Africa and provided a $40,000 grant to support a clean water project in the West African nation of Senegal.
The Laudato Sì Challenge grew out of the 2015 encyclical, or papal letter, from Pope Francis titled, “Laudato Sì mi Signore” (Praise to You my Lord). In the encyclical, the pope reminded Catholics that the earth is the common home for all its inhabitants:
“Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us,” the Holy Father wrote.
Two years ago, when Pope Francis invited all Catholics and people of good will to celebrate its fifth anniversary by “protecting families and future generations through action to care for our common home,” the Laudato Si’ Challenge was born.
The mission also reflects the charism of Rosary students to “be the hands and feet of Christ to our world” by serving “the dear neighbor without distinction.”
One highlight of the trip was a visit to St. Peter’s Square, where Bohn got to see Pope Francis riding in his secure vehicle affectionally known as the “Pope Mobile.”
Bohn also met Cardinal Peter Turkson, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Social Science.
The cardinal led Bohn and her entourage on a tour of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Another high point was a day trip Bohn took from Rome to Assisi with a small group of dignitaries. Bohn essentially led the trip, DiCrisi said, which included a chat between Bohn and Stefania Proietti, the Mayor of Assisi, to discuss the possibility of hosting a future LSC summit there.
ROSARY ACADEMY STUDENT ALEX BOHN WITH MAYOR OF ASSISI, STEFANIA PROIETTI. COURTESY PHOTO
The mayor was immediately drawn to Bohn and told the Rosary senior that the future of the LSC movement is dependent on involvement from young people.
“Next thing I know, she’s writing her personal email on a card and handing it to me across the table,” Bohn wrote in an article about her trip for Rosary’s student news site, the Royal Reporter. “How cool would it be to intern for or collaborate directly with the Mayor of Assisi?”
Bohn was asked to help organize a future summit in Assisi and to help raise awareness about the LSC through articles for major newspapers.
In choosing the scholarship recipient, DiCrisi interviewed prospective students, classmates, teachers and the Rosary Head of School.
“Seeing all these different people collaborate together for one common mission when they are coming from totally diverse areas, is amazing to watch,” she said. I was joyful that some people want to make the world a better place. It’s uplifting to be a part of.”