TOPICS including migration, prayer and the elderly were at the forefront of recent discussions between Pope Francis and New Farm parish priest Scalabrinian Father Martin Ignacio Gutierrez.
Fr Gutierrez was in Rocca Di Papa, Italy, at the time for the general chapter of the Scalabrinian Fathers, to elect a new superior general.
The Scalabrinians are an international community of religious serving migrants and refugees of different cultures, religions and ethnicities in 32 countries and on five continents.
“We gather together to choose the new leader in the congregation and also we develop a kind of guidance for our next six years – what kind of work we want to do, the orientation we want to take,” Fr Gutierrez said. “During that gathering we had a private meeting with the Pope.
“We introduced ourselves and the new general administration. It was a conversation, a dialogue to support one another, and of course (the Scalabrinians) now have the blessing of the Pope for the next six years.”
During his blessing, Pope Francis emphasised the importance of a rich community life.
“We need a healthy community life, simple but not banal, not mediocre,” Pope Francis said.
“I appreciated when the superior general said that the Spirit calls you to experience among you communion in diversity.
“Yes, as testimony but first and foremost as a joy for you, as a human, Christian and ecclesial richness.
“I also encourage you to continue the journey of sharing with the laity, facing today’s challenges together; as well as attending to permanent formation courses.
“Brothers, I thank you for this meeting. I pray for your chapter, that it may bring you many good fruits. And you too, please, do not forget to pray for me.”
Fr Guiterrez also asked the Pope for his blessing of all those in Australia.
“It’s beautiful news that he gladly said yes,” Fr Gutierrez said. “In other words, he prays for all of us.”
It was the first time Fr Gutierrez had met with the Pope – an exchange that left a lasting impression.
“He’s a humble person – very simple, very approachable, very human,” he said. “He asked all of us ‘Do you have a question for me?’.
“He was so kind that every single comment or question we asked him, or shared with him, he kindly answered. He reminded us to pray and to try and live in a simple manner, giving witness for people.
“He emphasised the beauty of promoting migrants, because our congregation is really to focus on migration. He invited us to respect and honour the seniors worldwide.”