Sunday, September 8, 2019

Pope Francis says "... the expression of God's presence in the midst of his poor..." at "City of Friendship" built on Dumpsters with housing for 25,000 people Founded by his former Student


In its 30 years of activity, the Akamosa Association has helped create housing for over 25,000 people, developing 18 villages, complete with dispensaries and schools that provide education for some 14,000 children.
The founder of the Akamasoa Association, Fr Pédro Opeka, invited Pope Francis to visit the Community, since Jesuit Father Mario Bergoglio had been Fr Pedrò’s theology professor back home in Argentina.
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO MOZAMBIQUE, MADAGASCAR AND MAURITIUS
(4-10 SEPTEMBER 2019)

VISIT TO THE CITY OF THE FRIENDSHIP OF AKAMASOA

GREETING OF THE HOLY FATHER

Antananarivo
Sunday, September 8, 2019


Good afternoon everyone, good afternoon.

It is a joy for me, a great joy to find my old student again. Father Pedro was my student at the Faculty of Theology in the years 1967-68. After he has not continued studying, he has found a love for work, for work. Thank you very much, father.

It is a great joy for me to meet you in this great work. Akamasoa is the expression of God's presence in the midst of his poor people; not a sporadic, circumstantial presence, is the presence of a God who decided to live and always remain in the midst of his people.

This afternoon you are numerous in the heart of this "City of Friendship", which you have built with your hands and that - I do not doubt it - you will continue to build so that many families can live with dignity. Seeing your radiant faces, I thank the Lord who has heard the cry of the poor and who has manifested his love with concrete signs such as the creation of this people. Your cries that arise from the impotence of living without a roof, of seeing your children grow in malnutrition, of not having a job, because of the indifferent look - not to say contemptuous - of so many, have become songs of hope for you and for all who contemplate you. Every corner of these neighborhoods, every school or clinic is a song of hope that denies and silences all fatality. Let's say it hard, poverty is not a fatality.

Indeed, this town has a long history of courage and mutual help. This town is the result of many years of hard work. In the foundations we find a living faith that was translated into concrete acts, capable of “moving mountains”. A faith that allowed us to see possibility where only precariousness was seen, to see hope where only fatality was seen, to see life where so many announced death and destruction. Remember what the apostle James wrote: "Faith, if it has no works, is dead inside" (St 2,17). The foundations of joint work, the sense of family and community made it possible to restore craftsmanship and patient confidence not only in you but among you, which allowed you to be the first protagonists and artisans of this story. An education in values ​​thanks to which those first families who ventured with Father Opeka were able to transmit the enormous treasure of effort, discipline, honesty, respect for themselves and others. And you have been able to understand that the dream of God is not only personal progress but mainly community, that there is no worse slavery, as Father Pedro reminded us, than that of living each one only for himself.

Dear young people of Akamasoa, I would like to send you a special message: never lower your arms to the dire effects of poverty, nor ever succumb to the temptations of the easy path or of locking yourself in yourselves. Thank you, Fanny, for that beautiful testimony you gave us on behalf of the youth of the town. Dear young people: The work done by your elders, it's up to you to continue it. You will find the strength to do it in your faith and in the living testimony that your elders have embodied in your lives. Let the gifts that the Lord has given you flourish in you. Ask him to help you put yourself at the service of your brothers and sisters with generosity. Thus, Akamasoa will not only be an example for future generations, but much more, the starting point of a work inspired by God that will reach its full development as long as he continues to witness his love to present and future generations.

Let us pray that in all Madagascar and in other parts of the world the brightness of this light will be prolonged, and we can achieve development models that favor the fight against poverty and social inclusion from trust, education, work and effort, which are always indispensable for the dignity of the human person.

Thank you, friends of Akamasoa, dear Father Pedro and his collaborators: Thank you once again for your prophetic testimony, and for your hopeful testimony. May God continue to bless you.

I ask you, please, do not forget to pray for me.

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