“Christ makes us feel at home everywhere, all brothers and sisters because we are children of the same Father, and he helps us to hope, conquering fears, mistrust and misunderstandings”. With strong conviction 160 young Africans who live in Verona recounted to Pope Francis their efforts to integrate “without losing our identity”, they explained, or “our culture which is rooted in Christian faith”.
Almost all of them are from Nigeria and Ghana, and they belong to St James Church. The points of reference for this African Catholic community in the heart of Verona are Fr Cornelius Ekubelem and Sr Mariapia Ciurletti, a Comboni sister who works in Verona for her African friends. “They are immigrants”, she said, “who suffer each day fatigue and extreme stress because of the heavy labour they are forced to do, and also for a lack of work”. In effect, Sr Mariapia continued, “every day we deal with evictions, bills to pay and also a lot of humiliation on the street where those who are unemployed try to scrape something together”. However, the sister stated, “they are men and women with strong faith who do not withdraw from the task of inculturation, trying to ensure that the colour of their skin no longer makes them feel different”.
“Say hello to Pope Benedict for me!”. The sincere request by Anna, a 12-year-old mentally disabled girl who had come from Alberobello, deeply moved Francis, who was close to the girl and immediately called to his side Archbishop Georg Gänswein, asking the Prefect of the Papal Household to pass on the tender greeting to the Pope emeritus.
St. Peter’s Square
Sept. 20, 2018
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