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14/3/2013 - Argentina - Pope Francis, the one who…
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(ANS – Buenos Aires) – Fr Fabián García, former provincial of Buenos Aires from 2005 to 2010, knew Card. Bergoglio personally. He has given ANS some of his personal memories which reveal the face and heart of the new Pontiff; a heart which is deeply bound to Mary Help of Christians.

Moments after Pope Francis gave us his first words and his first blessing, my early memories flooded back... Francis I, the same Cardinal Bergoglio who, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and I called the Curia to seek an appointment, had the call immediately transferred to him from the central desk and instead of saying when it might be possible to fit me in said: “When can you come?”.

This is the same one who, whenever he finished any kind of meeting, formal or informal, always said: “Pray for me”.

The same one whom I met at the bus stop at the end of the Feast of the Patron of our parish, which he had presided at. I was going back to the Provincial House by car, and when I offered him a lift he said: “Thanks, but I always go by bus or the subway”.

This is the same man who lived so austerely at the Curia, without a car, not bothering about protocol and living very simply.

This is the same man I met while I was accompanying one of our Superiors on a visit to the historical centre of Buenos Aires. He was walking along the street, dressed simply in a dark suit and a shirt and when we greeted him he said: “I've just come to take the place of a parish priest who is sick”.

This is the man who, in a preface to one of his books (Meditations for Religious), with reflections from when he was Jesuit Provincial in Argentina, wrote: “And when taking up the question of religious meditation, the principal collaboration came from the example of so many of our confreres... I have had a strong influence [in my life], and would like to cite the example of ecclesial service and religious consecration of Fr Enrico Pozzoli, SDB...”.

This is the man who expressed his support for the “San Lorenzo de Almagro” football team, founded by Salesian Fr Lorenzo Massa. The same man who with his habitual simplicity could give you advice, help you in a situation of government or tell a joke and make you laugh. This is the man who always wanted to preside at the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, loves Don Bosco and is very devoted to Blessed Artemides Zatti.

This is the man who as Jesuit Provincial got them to pray the novena for the then Servant of God, Bro. Artemides Zatti, asking him to intercede for lay brother vocations to the Jesuits, and there were many vocational fruits from this prayer.

This is the man who celebrated the Beatification of Ceferino Namuncurá with so much joy, presiding at the Procession, the Mass and other celebrations.

But of all of my memories there is one that is strongest, most significant, indelible: a man of faith who, every 24th of the month, early in the morning before the doors opened, came to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in the suburb of Almagro, celebrated Mass and stayed a good hour praying before the image of the Blessed Virgin which had been blessed by Don Bosco himself.

Published 14/03/2013

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