On Sunday November 19, Pope Francis presided over a Mass for 7,000 disadvantaged people to celebrate the First World Day of the Poor. 1,500 stayed for lunch in the Vatican, while the others went elsewhere, including some who were served by Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi members at the Regina Apostolorum and the European University of Rome, which are both run by the movement.
“When we walk the streets of the city, we meet many who are impoverished,” noted Fr. André LaSana, LC, who participated. “We made contact with a few, but such encounters are brief. This encounter allowed me to live more time with these people, to put a face and a name to the reality of the poverty that in the street we usually see far away.”
The theme Pope Francis chose for this day was Let us not love in words but with works. Pope Francis wrote regarding this day, “We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.”
This was the way the members and friends of Regnum Christi tried to live out the day, inviting the poor in to their buildings to share a meal.
Fr. Jesús Villagrasa, LC, the Rector of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, commented: “Our universities gladly accepted the request of the Pontifical Council for the Promoting the New Evangelization, which offered us the opportunity to open our doors and hearts to live this work of mercy. The chaplaincies of the two universities managed to summon more than 60 volunteers – including students, professors, family members and staff – who have gladly and generously provided food and collected essential supplies for other charitable works that take care of those in need.” Fr. Jesús was also interviewed about this on Vatican Radio.
Fr. Sebastián Rodríguez, LC, who works at Regina Apostolorum, explained how this matched the universities’ mission: “In addition to teaching and research, the third mission of the university is service to society. This is one of a thousand ways we serve society.”