|Father Fernando with Pope Francis|
Message from Fr. Fernando Suarez on meeting Pope Francis
Everyone, every priest wants to meet the Pope. Indeed. How much more when he hugs you! How much more when he embraces you! Not only that; He gives you his skull cap! It is euphoric! What an experience. What a feeling. What a blessing!
When I first met Fr. Ricky Ignacio in Tarlac in 2007 through Mrs. Marion Mangio, I told him, “you will be my gate to Rome.” I did not know he is the pastor of Our Lady of Grace and Mercy in Ponte Galeria, outside of Rome, close to the airport. True enough, seven (7) years later he will become my gate to meet the Pope.
According to Fr. Ricky, he has kept in touch with the Pope since the beginning of April because his parish was damaged by the storm last February. It was the Pope himself who called and helped him. At that meeting, Fr. Ricky showed him some pictures of our ministry to the poor in the Philippines. That got the latter’s attention. Pope Francis then inquired who the priest in the picture feeding and praying with the poor is. The Pope expressed interest to meet this priest, who happens to be me.
Twenty (20) days after the meeting, I had the chance to celebrate Mass inside the Vatican’s Blessed Sacrament chapel together with some MMMP board of Directors. Then Fr. Ricky asked us to pray as he was thinking of bringing me to the Pope.
This was realized on April 24 at Santa Marta Chapel. I spent two hours with him dur-ing the Mass and prolonged silent prayer . Then I greeted him, embraced him and asked for his blessing.
It is euphoric! What an experience. What a feeling. What a blessing!
During the conversation he offered his skull cap saying, “This is for your seminary, the Missionaries of Mary Mother of the Poor. Then he told me in Italian, as interpreted by Fr. Ricky, “Go forth for the Kingdom of God.”
His hug is so affirming, so consoling, so powerful. It is like God’s embrace. It healed me. It consoled me. It affirmed me. Indeed, it was a golden moment. That’s the reality of it. When God embraces you, when you let Him so, he will give you peace.”
As what Pope Francis said in the Evangelii Gaudium #3, “Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace,” I hope we do not deprive ourselves of the experience of God’s redeeming embrace. This is where the most au-thentic encounter with God will happen.
- Download copy of July 2014 MMMP Newsletter