” I want to be a witness of this joy of the Gospel and bring to you the tenderness and caress of God, our Father, especially to his children most in need, to the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, to those who are victims of this throwaway culture.” Pope Francis spoke from the heart in the video message to his “dear brothers and sisters of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay,” on the eve of the voyage that from July 5th to 13th will bring him to three South American countries, praying “that the announcement of the Gospel can reach to the farthest outskirts and continue to make the values of the Kingdom of God a leaven of the earth in our days as well.”
“Right from the preparations we sensed that this visit would be a providential grace for the people of God in this land,” write Bernadita and Fabián, who are responsible for the Focolare Movement in Ecuador. Inés Loato is on the organizing committee. She remembers with gratitude the path undertaken in just two months of preparation: “it has been a new discovery meeting members of other Movements and church communities, a tremendous richness. We all feel we are truly brothers and sisters.” In this period they sought to “testify to this love as preparation for the grace that we will surely receive.”
Many others were involved as volunteers, thousands throughout the country: “Joy, humility and love are the three consignments that the Church has given us for our volunteer work,” explains Adriana Guallasamin, a young volunteer and coordinator in the formation sector. A mission of “proclamation, door to door, in contact with many people who are far from the Church, but slowly responded to the invitation to help with the logistics.” “I am grateful to God,” she concludes, ” for this unique opportunity to serve the Church.”
What to expect from the pope’s packed schedule, in the first stop in Ecuador
There are the two mid-ocean masses in Guayaquil and Quito, a meeting with the world of education, with representatives of civil society, a visit to the Sisters of Mother Teresa nursing home, a meeting with priests, religious brothers and sisters, seminarians, and the Bishops of the nation. In addition to the greeting for President Correa and the visit to the Cathedral of Quito and the Church of the Company.
In Bolivia (http://www.franciscoenbolivia.org/) with the motto, “Renewal and Reconciliation,” awaits –among other appointments–the 2nd World Meeting of Popular Movements and a visit to the imprisoned in the Center of Reeducation in Palmasola.
In Paraguay (https://franciscoenparaguay.org/) the visit to a pediatric hospital and the inhabitants of a barrio (neighborhood) in the capital city, Asunción. The voyage concludes with a meeting with young people on the riverfront, Costanera: “messenger of joy and peace,” or as they say in guarani, the official language of Paraguay along with Spanish, to highlight the cultural variety and preciousness : Oguerúva vy’a ha py’aguapy.