Encounter with the Pope Francis, on 6 October 2017

Encounter with the Pope Francis, on 6 October 2017

This is a somewhat exceptional event to be able to participate in the mass of the Pope the morning at 7: 00 in the Church of Santa Marta near the place where he resides. I am pleased to share with you this encounter.

The last year, Brother K.M. Joseph, Assistant General, and I celebrated 50 years of our first vows in the Congregation of the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel, and we wrote a letter of request to participate in a morning Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. We received an initial negative response. We made another one… and here Wednesday night, 5 October comes a call from the Vatican to our Generalate in Rome, for inviting us to participate in the Mass of the Pope the next day. Unfortunately Brother K.M. Joseph is in India. I’ll be the only one to go to Mass at St. Martha.

It is obviously a great joy to meet Pope Francis, mixed with a little sadness because we wanted to take this step together.

The characteristic of this Mass with the Pope is a real simplicity, with a quality and intensity of the living mystery. There was no protocol. The Pope celebrated the Mass alone, even if in the audience there were more than twelve priests. His homily, in reference to the first reading of the day focused on sin giving many examples. In conclusion, he said: “Ask for the grace to be ashamed of what we did and to humbly ask for forgiveness.”

At the end of the Mass, the Pope came to sit among the assistance, for a short time of Thanksgiving, and he then joined another room where he spoke with the visitors individually.

If I had the feeling of being privileged by attending this Mass followed a short time with the Pope, it is because I came to represent our Congregation and even our Montfort family, and also my own family. Introducing me, I began by telling the Pope that the Brothers had a lot of affection for him. To mean I was coming on behalf of the Congregation, I brought the picture of our General Council that I presented to the Pope by mentioning also about our brother K.M. Joseph who should have come with me. In recalling the tercentenary of the Montfortian family, I handed him the book of the University Conference of Angers, entitled “The father of Montfort, madness and wisdom”. I was done recommending three prayer intentions. And with a few words in French, he showed his attention to what I was saying to him.

His last words were: “Pray for me.” After this unforgettable encounter, I am committed to pray more for him and to adopt always more his testimony and his teaching.

Brother Yvan Passebon,

Vicar General.

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