The images of the recent trip of the Pope to Sri Lanka, first, and then to the Philippines, after, have circled the globe. His talks, gestures, phrases, were relaunched by many newspapers in numerous languages and by the social networks that have become powerful multipliers of his message of “mercy and compassion”, the central themes chosen by him for this historical trip.
«We made history again – they wrote us from Manila – surpassing the biggest gathering recorded in history in the inforgettable World Youth Day of 1995 with John Paul II. In fact, in the mass in Luneta Park, the almost 7 million present showed once more their faith in and love for the Holy Father».
On the second day, 40,000 participants at the meeting with the families at the Mall of Asia, along Manila Bay. Francis encouraged the Filipino families to “serve as sanctuaries where life is respected” and to proclaim the sacredness of life from birth to death.
«I expected a celebrity – Nidj, a youth of the Focolare said– instead, I saw a “servant”. I felt pure, simple, and authentic love as he spoke. He managed to stay humble and be himself in spite of all the attention directed towards him».
And Loli Funk: «There has been much wisdom like a blinding light with the novelty of the call to live an authentic Christian life but one does not even have to be a Catholic to appreciate his messages: they hit us right into the heart of where it hurts and touches us the most. If we are a family, a community that looks after one another, but each one integrally whole, we have better chances of making it».
Romé Vital: «When Pope Francis spoke to the young people yesterday at the University of Santo Tomas, he urged us to live in reciprocity not only to give and give but also to allow ourselves to receive love from God and from others. This is something new to highlight the value of reciprocity in our Christian life».
And still more, Jan Co Chua: «Reflecting on the events with Pope Francis these days, I feel like the apostles on the road to Emmaus… They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk 24,32)».
The most moving part of his trip was the visit to the survivors of the zones struck by typhoons, in Tacloban. «we are still in the euphoria of joy brought to us by the historical visit if our Holy Father Pope Francis», the members of the local community of the Focolare wrote to us.
«Francisc is the first Pope to come and visit Tacloban. His visit made us feel the maternal love of God through the Church. We felt understood, consoled, after having suffered so much in the past. We were surprised by his spontaneity in loving: his decision, inspite of the typhoon, to celebrate the mass out in the open with winds that blew strongly. We were touched by his homily, by his humility, when he said that he had no words to say in front of these sufferings and when he asked our forgiveness since he arrived a little bit late …».
The community of the Focolare was fully involved in the preparations: «The local Church entrusted to us the preparation of the venue where the mass would be celebrated: the vast open field that could contain 120 thousand people, In front of this very demanding task we asked the help of adherents, sympathizers, friends, relatives, also coming from the other provinces, and we organized a plan which we had prepared for the past three months».
Von, confessed that for many years now he had not been going to mass: «When I was invited to work for the event, I put all my efforts into it. I found my faith once again and also the family of the Focolare».
Some women Volunteers who were in charge of organizing the places for the people, wrote us: «We could have chosen the best places for us to be able to see the Pope. But we chose the farthest places so as to give way to the others. But in the end we were able to greet the Pope up close just the same!».
The young Gen worked in the sector of crowd control: «We tried to make love reign above everything else: giving preference to the elderly, to those who had come from faraway (walking for many kilometers) … We were very moved by the words of the Holy Father. We greeted him up close and he smiled at us. What a great joy we felt at this encounter with him!».
«The visit of Pope Francis – they concluded – was a unique experience: to be there with all the people, working together for 24 hours under the rain, the strong wind and many other discomforts. His words and the experience we lived will never be erased from our heart!».