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Apostolic Movement

An extraordinary surprise for Schoenstatt seminarians

By: Lucas Botassio

This week, a surprise flooded the hearts of a group of young seminarians of the Schoenstatt Fathers with profound joy. Without expecting it, they were received by Pope Francis during the General Audience on Wednesday, February 7. Lucas Botassio, a member of the course, tells of the surprise they had at the end of the Pope’s catechesis:

My course was in Rome those days to finish a period of internal formation of our community of Schoenstatt Fathers, and we saw that it was possible to request to participate in this audience. We sent a letter to the Pope’s secretariat, introducing ourselves as Schoenstatt seminarians and requesting access to the Paul VI Hall for the audience.

We were delighted when we received the reply confirming our participation so that all my course brothers could be present: Gergely Palásthy (Hungary), Johannes Korn (Germany), Bernardo Rocha e Melo (Portugal), Joshua Parker (USA), Rodrigo Fernández (Mexico), Héctor Islas Becker (Mexico), Cristhian Silva (Paraguay), Gustavo Ceccon Guimarães (Brazil), myself, Lucas Botassio (Brazil) and Fr. Víctor Pérez, who is our formator, from Chile.

The Pope’s welcome during the audience

We arrived early enough to join the line, which soon became enormous. When we entered the Paul VI Hall, we handed the Swiss Guard the invitation that gave us access to the audience and stood very close to the stage. At the end of the catechesis, the Pope addressed a few words of welcome to the various registered groups, and suddenly, he greeted us, too! It was a great joy to hear him welcome us to Schoenstatt, something we were not expecting.

Schoenstatt? Come quickly!

As if this gift was not enough, suddenly some guards approached and asked: “Schoenstatt?” and said: “Come quickly! We stood up without understanding what was happening and followed them to the steps of the Paul VI Hall, right in front of the stage.

We could no longer contain our joy because we had realized that we were with the groups invited to the Pope’s “bacciamano” and that he would pass near us in a few minutes. He arrived with the help of a secretary, who carried him in his wheelchair and slowly passed by us, blessing the Pilgrim MTAs we were carrying, receiving our handshakes and hugs, and stopping to take a picture with the entire course of seminarians. He told us the “classic” anecdote that he also has a Pilgrim MTA in his room, a gift from Fr. Alexandre Awi de Mello, and that he prays in front of it daily.

Hugs like winning a championship

We left the room in disbelief at what had happened, hugging each other as if we had just seen our team win the championship. If the theme of the catechesis is to combat the vice of sadness, we left the audience with the testimony of a pastor who is truly happy with the attitude of the meeting.


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