On February 3-23, 2020, two friars belonging to the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy), Friar Tullio PASTORELLI, serving as a missionary in Chile, and Friar Valerio FOLLI, the Director of the Provincial Missionary Center, conducted a missionary experience for youth.
This experience was planned two and a half years ago, by the missionary group of the Church of Jesús de Nazaret in Curicó, Chile. It was designed as an exchange program between sister Churches in Chile and Italy, providing an opportunity to be witnesses of hope in Italy, and to know and share Franciscan spirituality in its fullness. The experience began in Rome, where the group members participated in the 31st Missionary Assembly of the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP). At this event, the members spoke about the way Christianity is experienced in Chile. In particular, these young mission animators talked about the way they offer missionary service to the poorest and least of society, thus providing a sign of authentic testimony, in keeping with what Pope Francis invited us to do.
On February 4-7, the group visited Assisi, especially the places with a true and genuine Franciscan spirituality. During their visit to the hometown of St. Francis and Clare, the youth group had a moving experience as they stood before the Cross of San Damiano and asked with open hearts: “Lord, what do you want me to do for your Church?”
On February 8-11, the participants spent time in Padua. On the way to Padua, they passed through Longiano, where they visited the local Conventual Franciscan fraternity and met the friars there. Next, they visited Angela and Salvatore MACCA, missionary collaborators who had been in Chile for several years, serving the community in Copiapó. On February 16, they went to the Basilica of St. Anthony, where they attended a Mass commemorating the translation of the body of St. Anthony. The participants took part in this celebration with devotion and faith in the Eucharist, while, from the bottom of their hearts, they prayed for peace and serenity in Chile.
Finally, on February 18-22, the group returned to Rome and visited some of the most iconic places known in the splendid country of Italy. Certainly the most impactful moment was attending the Wednesday audience at the Vatican with Pope Francis. The testimony he gave refreshed the hearts of those who heard him speak.
Our deepest thanks go to all the people that the group encountered during this beautiful experience of faith and human and spiritual growth. We are particularly thankful to those who encouraged us and for the heartfelt and profound moments of prayer we experienced as well as the meetings and fraternity we took part in.
Verónica RÍOS CÁRESES