The long awaited day for the FMA General Chapter’s audience with Pope Francis had arrived…
It was a truly wonderful experience from the moment we walked up the stairs past the Swiss Guard, something I have always wanted to do, into the interior of the splendid surroundings of the Vatican. After being led up several flights of magnificent marble stairs we arrived in the even more wonderful Clement VIII room where we were to await Pope Francis. I am sure you can imagine the huge emotion of all 194 of us and the chatter and excitement as we waited for the Holy Father to arrive. We had a false alarm when a cardinal scuttled through, smiling broadly as he acknowledged our expection that he was the Holy Father.
Finally, the side door was thrown open and Pope Francis came in, his presence filling the whole room which had erupted in warm cheering and clapping.
Mother Yvonne made a short address going over some essential elements of the Chapter work, as well as assuring the Holy Father of our fidelity to the Church and our desire to continue sharing our charism for the good of many young people who are suffering in so many ways today. Pope Francis and Mother Yvonne shared a few homely moments. Mother Yvonne shared our great desire to see Laura Vicuna cannonised but he said we needed to produce a miracle, she replied saying we had submitted many but the doctors did not accept them so we were now praying for the doctors…he laughed!
Pope Francis then made an address showing that he knew all about the Chapter and our contribution to the world of the young. He thanked us and asked us to make sure we stayed in Patagonia, part of his mission to the Church in Argentina!
He did not have time to greet us individually unfortunately, but he did sit and have a group photo, but I doubt if Sr. Connie and I will be visible since we were right at the back by a strange quirk of fate which we will be willing to share with anyone who is interested when we return in the near future!
We arrived home really happy to have had this wondeful opportunity and can assure all the members of the Salesin family that we held all present during the Apostolic blessing which we were fortunate enough to receive.