Pope Francis meeting with members of the "Communità Frontiera" Pope Francis meeting with members of the "Communità Frontiera"  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Bear witness on peripheries like Fr. Puglisi and St. Francis

Pope Francis meets with 250 members of Italy's "Frontier Community", and underscores the importance of living the Gospel and focusing on the Risen Christ in their outreach to disadvantaged youth, so that they may rise above the darkness of their difficulties.

By Paolo Ondarza

Pope Francis addressed the members of the "Communità Frontiera", or "Frontier Community", which operates in southern Italy, noting that the word "frontier" can sometimes be used as a slogan, but it has deeper meanings to which they are giving witness. The members attending the audience included a large number of young people in addition the community leaders.

The Pope encouraged them all in their commitment to helping youth in difficulty and drawing inspiration from the charisms of St. Francis of Assisi and Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi.

A way of life

The Pope explained how both St. Francis and Blessed Fr. Puglisi witnessed to the Gospel on the peripheries also seeing it as first and foremost a way of life. Living on the boundaries or peripheries (frontier) recalls how Jesus lived who comes to encounter us, to find the lost sheep, the Pope explained.

And in a similar way St. Francis in following Christ, put aside his riches and became a beggar in order to abandon himself completely to the providence of the Father who is in heaven.

The Pope said these choices allowed him share the condition of the "little ones," the least, who beg for bread but also and above all for love.

The "frontier" witness is also the style of Fr. Pino Puglisi, the Pope observed, recalling how he took care of the youth in his parish in the Brancaccio area, going out to meet them and take them off the streets, to educate them to serve God and their neighbour and not to their own interests and those of the area organized crime syndicates.

The style of the Gospel

The real frontier of the world is the human heart, the Pope explained, inviting us to sow seeds of the Gospel here, on this "frontier" so that relationships are marked by closeness, tenderness, and compassion, as can be appreciated in the many stories of the close to one hundred youth cared for by the community.

The Pope described each of their personal stories as totally unique, but all with a common thread uniting them, that of love that overcomes evil and generates life. He underscored how love is welcoming and listening; love is closeness, tenderness, compassion; and love is respect, dignity, and elevating the human person.

Jesus at the center

In the southern Italian town of Mola di Bari, the Pope recalled on their community was called to animate the City of Young People: a name that reminds us of the vocation of Don Bosco, who was motivated by a call to dedicate his ministry to young people so that they might become good Christians and citizens.

To do this, it is necessary to keep the Risen Christ at the center of our focus, and that is the image displayed at the center of the coat of arms of the Communità Frontiera.

The Pope encouraged them to consecrate themselves to the Risen Christ in order to transmit His light, so that young people living in darkness may "come to the light," and be reborn to a new life.

Frontier commitment

Communità Frontiera works in southern Italy in the province of Enna with a Day Center for minors where it cares for 100 youth. In the province of Bari it created the first residential and semi-residential part of "Città dei Ragazzi" (city of young people), recognized by Italy's Ministry of the Interior as a Pilot Project for Southern Italy for the prevention of juvenile delinquency.

Founded in the diocese of Piazza Armerina, today it is a public association of the faithful, affiliated with the Order of Friars Minor Conventual.

Representing a real "field hospital", the Città dei Ragazzi was inaugurated on 15 September 2011, the memorial of the martyrdom of Fr. Giuseppe Puglisi. The Centre aims to heal the inner wounds of young boys caused by crime and the inability of adults to fulfill their educational role. The community's motto is "There are no bad boys, but there are those who have not had the chance to know good."

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22 October 2022, 12:34