On Wednesday 1 May, 2013, the 23rd day of the 20th General Assembly, the 40 SMA delegates and the lay invitee and the administrative staff (moderators, secretaries and translators) participated in the weekly general audience of Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square Rome, attended by approximately 70,000 pilgrims.
The SMA Delegation was greeted by the Pope in Italian: "Saluto poi i religiosi della Società delle Missioni Africane et le Figlie di Maria Santissima della Presentazione al Tempio”, che Celebrano rispettivi Capitoli generali". [I also greet the religious of the Society of African Missions and the Daughters of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, who celebrate their General Chapters]. Only the Superior General, Father Fachtna O'Driscoll was allowed to personally meet the Pope to whom he entrusted the missionary work of the SMA.
The Papal audience coincided with the beginning of the Marian month, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and Workers’ Day. It was also the second anniversary of the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Pope Francis asked the pilgrims to learn to pray in the family, like the Holy Family of Nazareth. He called on political leaders to do everything they can to create jobs, saying that unemployment was the result of an economic vision "not in the rules of social justice." He paid tribute to the faith, love and courage of John Paul II.
Father Michel Bonemaison (Lyon Province, France) presently serving in the diocese of Clermont-Ferrand (France), shared his testimony:
"I am also pleased about our meeting with Pope Francis. Amazing, but it's true, this man has conquered the world by his humility. May we be guided by his example and teaching. His election made me think of my stay in Cordoba (Argentina) during which a Jesuit priest, Fr Jorge, who was my spiritual guide allowed me to open my heart in a new way for people in pain."
Many were impressed by the simplicity of the Pope who can be easily approached, walking to greet the sick waiting for his audience, allowing them to touch him and taking time to listen and has a word of comfort for everyone. Another SMA priest remarked: "Now I believe, not because people have told me and the media have reported, but I have seen with my own eyes that God has given his people a pastor according to his heart. May his name be glorified! "
A summary of the Pope’s teaching on this occasion:
"Dear brothers and sisters, today we celebrate St. Joseph the Worker and we begin the month of Mary. I would like to reflect on these two figures, based on two ideas, work and contemplation of Jesus.
Jesus was born of Mary by the power of God, but in the presence of St. Joseph, his legal father. He lives in the Holy Family where he learns the carpenter's trade. This reminds us that work is part of God's loving plan. At this moment I think of workers and those who are unemployed. I ask you brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will to make a firm decision against human trafficking, making them slaves and making workers do humiliating work!
The second idea is contemplating on Jesus
In the silence of the daily activities, the attention of Joseph and Mary is on one person: Jesus. Each of us should ask: what place do I give to the Lord? Praying the Rosary allows us to contemplate the mystery of Jesus. In this month of Mary, it would be nice if, as a family, with friends, in the parish, we recite the rosary together or a prayer to Jesus and Mary!
Let us ask Saint Joseph and Mary to teach us to be faithful to our commitments, to live our faith through our daily actions, to give a place to the Lord in our lives and learn to contemplate his face! "
Finally, on our return to Nocetta we celebrated the feastday of Fr Joseph Egan, a delegate from the Irish Province, and the 10th anniversary of the Ordination of Fr Alan de Guzman, Superior of Philippines DF. Ad Multos Annos!
Photos of 1 May 2013