-- and Mary Help of Christians
(ANS – Rome) – On the afternoon of March 21, the Rector Major and his vicar, Fr. Adriano Bregolin, were received by Pope Francis at the Vatican, in an encounter with all the hallmarks of great familiarity. The Pope spontaneously accepted Fr. Chavez’s letter of homage, indicating that he would be ready to visit Turin in 2015.
“It was a brief meeting: 15 minutes but very intense, in which we handed the Holy Father the letter I had written for the inauguration of his pontificate, and the statue of Mary Help of Christians, which he immediately kissed,” the Rector Major tells us.
|Pope Francis (without his zucchetto!) welcomes Fr. Pascual Chavez and Fr. Adriano Bregolin, holding a statue of Mary Help of Christians, to whom the Pope has been specially devoted since his youth, it appears|
“Everything we have seen and felt since that first presentation in St. Peter’s Square, on that unforgettable evening of his election, we re-lived and experienced in person this evening: his attractive congeniality, great simplicity, warmth, and ability to listen and relate. He recognized me, and the embrace with which he welcomed me made me feel his great sense of fatherliness.”
The Pope’s humanity is also shown in his particular attention to Fr. Chavez in person. “He asked me about my health, because he had heard I was not well. He also asked me when I would be finishing my mandate as Rector Major. I told him that, thanks be to God, I had recovered in health to the point where I could continue my service and that I would finish as superior within a year.”
The conversation did not lack reference to Pope Francis’s fellow-feeling for Salesian spirituality and work: “Together,” Fr. Chavez continued, “we recalled a number of events: when asked at Aparecida whether the beatification of Ceferino Namuncurá could take place not in Buenos Aires but Chimpay, he gave his reason thus: ‘In Patagonia the Salesians have done everything’; his time as a past pupil at the Salesian school in Ramos Mejia; his devotion to Mary Help of Christians expressed by going to the shrine at Almagro every 24th of the month to celebrate Mass; he himself reminded me that he had been baptized there by a Salesian, Fr. Enrico Pozzoli; we also spoke of his attachment to the San Lorenzo soccer team, where he holds membership.”
The Rector Major and Fr. Bregolin also presented Pope Francis with a number of invitations, which he accepted most readily: “Introducing to him the director of the Vatican community, Fr. Sergio Pellini, we invited him to visit the [Vatican Polyglot] Press and the community, and he said he would do so. I then renewed the invitation to come to Turin for May 24, 2015, for the feast of Mary Help of Christians, on the occasion of the bicentennial of Don Bosco’s birth. His answer left room for hope: ‘Why not?’ Finally, Fr. Adriano Bregolin asked him to keep the statue of Mary Help of Christians in his study as the Help and Mother of the Church, and again he said, ‘I will do that.’”
The Rector Major and his vicar then took leave of the Pope, and they thanked him for granting this opportunity to greet him personally. They renewed their offer of prayer and closeness on the part of the whole Salesian Family and especially of the Congregation.