Shalom Catholic Community met today with the Holy Father Pope Francis in a private audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, to celebrate Shalom´s 35th anniversary. Right after this long awaited moment with the Pope that was lived with much joy, the founder and co-founder of Shalom Catholic Community, Moyses Azevedo and Emmir Nogueira gave an interview to comshalom:
Interview with Moysés Azevedo
As I always say, God surprises us, and He really surprises us beyond what we could imagine. The Hall was already in celebration before the Pope arrived. When the Pope arrived, the party exploded, with great joy, with great enthusiasm. The Pope made a very beautiful choice. He came very close to the ill and the children, and this testimony of the Pope is already a strong testimony. He sat down and listened. He listened attentively, joked a little, as he always does, and he showed how he was at home, how he was at ease, and how we were also at home with him, because we were visiting the Pope, the Bishop, our Pastor.
We were with him as a Pastor. Upon hearing the questions, his answers were very accurate. He spoke of some important issues. He spoke of a very concrete way for young people to come out of themselves. To come out of themselves and turn to God, to come out of themselves for others. He spoke of the great challenges of today’s time, of today’s society, such as narcissism and consumerism, such as turning to oneself for support , and he taught us and encouraged us a lot, to be that outgoing church, the church that leaves from itself and goes to meet God and to meet others.
Finally, he welcomed with great affection our offer of life, the renewal of our offer of life, because that was the reason why we came here: to renew our offer of life before the successor of Peter, returning to our origin, where we were born at the feet of St. John Paul II, and he blessed us for a new missionary sending. This is very important. The community, returning to its origins, is renewed not to remain on itself, but to come out of itself more and more to evangelize, through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, for all people.
Moyses, I know that it is still early, but can you already have a fruit in your heart, which in a particular way, as a missionary, harvests for your life from this encounter with the Pope, and also for the Shalom community as a whole?
It’s early, but there are so many fruits! Today’s joy, that strong joy, that joy that is inside the heart and that puts us all together in a dimension of joy, in a dimension of thanksgiving for all that God has done in our poverty. He visited us with His Mercy, and the Pope spoke a lot about Mercy as well. He also spoke of dialogue, intergenerational dialogue within the community, young people with the old, and the old with the new, and the importance of listening to both of them, so that both can be a response to the world today. There are many things. Later, we are going to have to elaborate on it, listen to it, pray on it, and certainly take great fruits and treasures that will liven the life of the community, because that is why we were here too, to feel the direction the Pope has for us, and because he gave us safe, precise, and fruitful directions for our lives.
Interview with Emmir Nogueira
Emmir, in a general account of this long awaited audience with the Holy Father, what is the strongest, most important and greatest thing for you?
The greatest thing for me was not an intellectual concept. In other for me to tell you what the Pope said I think I am going to need to read, analyze and pray on it. But what remains is a sense of family, of which we are one, of that church mysteriously sustained by the Holy Spirit in a world so averse to all that is affection, to everything that is evangelical demand. So that’s what this audience felt like to me. The Pope was like a father who feels very comfortable, who receives his children with great joy, and who practically spoils the children to show that he is there, that he is present. That was it for me. I can feel myself part of the family, I know that I am family, and I know that I am sent by this family. There is no one who goes on mission alone. There is no one who preaches alone. We preach on behalf of a family. We live in a family. That´s what this whole audience was about for me, the feeling of belonging in this family.
And how does Shalom Community today feel before this humble posture of the Holy Father so father, so informal even at times?
I think we can feel “at home”, as they say in Argentina “a la sala”, “at home”, without any problem. I thought it was beautiful when I was talking I would look at him and we would smile at each other in a kind of complicity, that when I finished, he just got up! And I did it because I thought he would hug me! So it was very lovely. I felt at home, without any formality. I think he sometimes gets tired of so much formal meetings, and there he was in his on element, it was great!