By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Members of the Service Center for Volunteers “Sardinia Solidale” met with Pope Francis on Friday in Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. He expressed his appreciation for their efforts to help some of the poorest people in the world and the welcome they extend to newcomers in Sardinia.
Sardinia—rich and poor
Pope Francis began by expressing appreciation for the work of the volunteer center calling it “as generous as it is a necessary service to the least”. He called Sardinia “your beautiful island—rich in natural treasures, history and art, but marked also by poverty and hardship”. The Pope mentioned particularly that he appreciates how they reach out to some of the poorest people in the world, as well as to people who have moved to Sardinia “in search of peace and work”.
Collaboration not isolation
Since the Center brings together various volunteer organizations, the Pope encouraged them to continue in this type of collaboration. Thus, he said, “you can promote…the culture of solidarity”. The benefit is that the center remains aware of the real needs of the poor through such organizations as parishes who are always in direct contact with the people being served.
A culture of solidarity is one that enhances volunteerism. It “concretely contributes to the construction of a fraternal society and puts the human person at the center”, the Pope said. When coupled with Sardinia's “robust Christian roots” it is a way of practicing love of God and neighbor, he said. “Thanks to this evangelical ‘lymph’, assistance maintains its human dimension and is not depersonalized”. This is the particular gift that volunteers contribute in society, Pope Francis said.
Gift for others
In conclusion, the Pope encouraged those present to continue to accomplish their mission passionately. Seek “all possible ways to build and reawaken in public opinion the need to be committed to the common good and to assist the week and the poor”. And he asked that Mary might grant them “strength of soul and trust in God so as to always be a gift to others”.
Service Center for Volunteers “Sardinia Solidale”
The Service Center supports and coordinates the efforts of various volunteer organizations operating in Sardinia. They specifically seek to foster a “culture of solidarity”, promote new volunteer initiatives and consolidate and network existing ones, offer technical and organizational assistance, provide training, and are a point of reference and knowledge on the local, national and international levels.