December 13, 2019  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

The international organization, with new U.S. headquarters in LA, aims to encourage social integration ‎and a culture of encounter among high school students through art, technology and sports

Archbishop José H. Gomez and Mayor Eric Garcetti, along with Auxiliary Bishop for the San Gabriel Region David O’Connell and about 30 Catholic high school students of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, participated today from Los Angeles in a live videoconference with Pope Francis in Rome to announce the launch of the Scholas Occurrentes U.S. headquarters. A video with highlights from the event is available at

“Young people are not the future of the Church — they are the present, the today of the Church,” said Archbishop Gomez. “We pray that Scholas will empower and inspire our young people, bringing them together in dialogue and service to our neighbors — working creatively for peace and to build a better world.”

Scholas Occurrentes, Latin for “schools for encounter,” is an educational project of pontifical right launched by Pope Francis 2013. It aims is to encourage social integration ‎and a culture of encounter among high school students through sports, arts and technology. Scholas participants from Haiti, Japan and Spain also joined the videoconference.

Students from Bishop Conaty – Our Lady of Loretto High School in Los Angeles, Bishop Mora Salesian High School in Boyle Heights and the new St. John Paul II STEM Academy in Burbank participated in the videoconference in Los Angeles. Many of the students in attendance in Los Angeles are recipients of Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) scholarships, which provides tuition assistance to the most financially deserving students attending Catholic elementary and high schools within the Archdiocese, many of which are in the inner-cities. Since it was founded in 1987, CEF has raised more than $200 million and awarded more than 181,000 scholarships.  With over 10,000 students currently receiving CEF awards, the money raised at the LA Marathon will help fund scholarships for those CEF students.

“Scholas Occurentes does not proselytize, but creates freedom”, said Pope Francis during the videoconference. “Because it gambles on what each person has in their heart, which is the capacity to grow and to build their own future.”

Ashly Garcia a junior from Bishop Conaty addressed Pope Francis on behalf of the students throughout the Archdiocese saying, “we congratulate you on the 50th anniversary of your ordination to the priesthood.  We are grateful for your ministry and your outreach to the youth.  We pray God’s continued blessings of wisdom and strength as you lead our church for many years to come.  Thank you, Pope Francis, for your faithful service to all God’s people!”

This summer, Scholas initiated an U.S. pilot program in Miami. The 100 young people who participated in the pilot developed proposals to address problems in their communities such as violence and weapons, to encourage participation and engagement in social, civic and political issues.

The videoconference is available at and

Press release from Scholas is attached in English and Spanish.


The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest Archdiocese in the United States with approximately five million Catholics. For the latest news, events and to subscribe for media alerts visit Follow us on social media at LACatholics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Video archives and footage of Masses celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez are also available.