You may imagine that the word ‘Papa Francesco’ was resonating in our Ark community for quite some time after the unexpected visit by the pope last week. Here you can read more about this visit.
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As said before, the Pope has come completely unannounced to visit us, even the official media were not informed in advance. I heard that some media houses were not entirely happy about this situation.
Time to promote
Anyhow, given the fact that only last few years the Ark community has actively engaged to some promotion activities and the fact that Ark is yet almost unknown in Italy or even in Rome itself, the Pope’s visit is likely to help raise the Ark’s awareness. Hopefully.
Invitation from TV2000
In fact, soon after the visit, we were contacted by the broadcaster TV2000. It is the official Catholic channel, which among other things, intensively reports on the Pope’s activities. The channel has a fair amount of approximately three million viewers mainly among Christians in Italy.
Diary of Pope Francis
Representatives of the Ark community were invited to attend the Il Diario di papa Francesco TV show (Diary of Pope Francis). TV2000 wanted to share our experience of meeting with the Holy Father to their audience. Loredana, responsible for the workshops and Marinella, responsible for assistants, both decided to be present at this show. Out of all the boys and girls in the community, Daniele was invited as well (I wrote about him here already).
Since the show is always watched live by smaller number of audience, we were invited there as well, beside a few other assistants and persons with mental difficulties. We were happy to respond. Another new experience for us. 🙂
What is behind this face?
All three, Loredana, Marinella and Daniele have been more than excellent. I will share a few short extracts that have touched me.
When the TV host asked Loredana about how to recognize God among people with mental difficulties, she replied:
“God wants to tell us that the meaning of our life is to open our heart, to come closer to that person, without fear (many are in fact also scared of such persons). We need to overcome these fears and get to know the person who lives behind the face of the affected.
However, this is equally true for the so-called ‘normal people’. If we know someone that we cannot connect with emotionally, we have to step into the relationship with this person and discover the origin of such feelings. Or, for example, a refugee arriving by boat to our land … We can look at what kind of life he actually lives and who really is a man behind the eyes of this poor guy.”
Mercy and forgiveness
When the presenter asked Marinella what a word compassion means for her daily life in the community, she said:
“Jean Vanier, our founder, says that the community is a place of celebration and forgiveness. And this is true. It is not possible to live in a community without accepting the vulnerability of the other person by being merciful to him and to forgive him.”
Arrivals and departures
And when the presenter turned to Daniele, the question was, what is it in the community he did not like, he answered:
“Volunteers that so often come and go.”
The latter is very much true. Same goes for the Ark in Slovenia or Bologna, we have often talked about how difficult life can be for these people. Living in the same house for years, many from their early childhood, while assistants, volunteers and responsible may change their place very often.
By fluctuation of new people into the community, of course, they bring along a welcoming freshness and new life, but time is needed for the persons to be able to adapt to them and get to know the new assistants better, which is not easy. In fact it is not an easy task for anyone of us!
Pope’s bombs in our community
Salvatore, one of the boys of La Vigna house told his story of how he met the Pope.
Not only the Pope sat down together with all gathered at the same table (officially he come for merenda, a snack), but he brought some bombs along, Salvo was explaining.
‘Bombs?’ asked the TV host.
Of course, we explained the host that the Pope actually came during snack time and actually brought a lot of food with him. In addition to some fruits (cherries and nectarines), there were desserts as well and among those a so-called ‘bomb’ sweet. In our country it is better known as cream filled donut.
You may watch the entire TV edition here (available in Italian language only).
A spiritual bomb
I may say that the Pope really brought a big spiritual bomb to the community. I hope indeed that its impact will reach far beyond the fences of our community.
If you would like to share your opinion, or maybe ask a question, leave a comment below. And of course, you can always share this post with others.
God is working – right now! Operando.