The internet is abuzz with the images of Pope Francis making an impromptu visit to a refugee camp while he was en route to visit a local parish, St. Michael the Archangel in Pietralata. Watch the video here. Here’s another copy of the video, without the English getting in the way. UPDATE: See that priest leading the Pope into the camp? More about him later.
That’s the basic scenario, and that’s the challenge the Pope’s action places before us, especially those ordained to serve.
Imagine the excitement of the parishioners: the Pope is coming! Here’s the picture they had on their website.
The pastor of St. Michael’s is Monsignor Aristide Sana, who was ordained on 18 March 1965 in St. John XXIII’s home diocese of Bergamo. Now a priest of the Diocese of Rome, he’s been the pastor of this parish since 1998. From what I can find, there are three other priests assigned, but I didn’t notice any deacons.
I keep imagining a conversation between Pope Francis and Monsignor Sana: “So, I just stopped at the refugee camp on the way here. Nice people! What are you guys doing to help?” Actually, I can only imagine the Pope’s question; we can leave the response to our own consciences.
UPDATE: Here’s a new video clip from the Pope’s visit to St. Michael the Archangel. He is teaching a religious education class to the kids; they all (including the Pope) seem very excited! Also, if you look closely, the priest near the Holy Father looks like the same man who was with the Pope at the refugee camp. I wonder if that is Monsignor Sana, the pastor of the parish?
If the pope was coming to visit OUR parishes, where would he choose to stop while en route? Imagine the pope asking those kind of questions of US! What are the “refugee camps” right in our own back yards? Where are the “margins” within our own communities? And, knowing that, where are WE?