Pope Francis meets pilgrims from the Diocese of Crema, Italy Pope Francis meets pilgrims from the Diocese of Crema, Italy  (Vatican Media)

Pope highlights humility, joy, amazement as traits of missionaries

Pope Francis emphasizes the characteristics that marked the missionary labours of Blessed Alfredo Cremonesis, and asks for prayers for Myanmar, the country where Blessed Alfredo gave his life.

By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis met with members of the faithful from the Italian Diocese of Crema on Saturday, and recalled the missionary work of Fr Alfredo Cremonesi, who was martyred in Burma (now known as Myanmar) seventy years ago. The encounter had originally been scheduled to take place after Blessed Alfredo’s beatification in 2019, but was delayed due to the Covid pandemic.

Appeal for Myanmar

Fr Alfredo Cemonesi was murdered in the small mountain village of Donokù by government soldiers who believed he was aiding rebels fighting for Burmese independence. “As you know, [Myanmar] is a tormented land… which I carry in my heart,” the Pope said. He appealed for prayers for the country, asking the faithful “to implore from God the gift of peace.”

The missionary witness of Blessed Alfredo

In his address, the Holy Father noted the tenacity with which Father Alfredo exercised his ministry, “giving himself without calculation and without sparing for the good of the people entrusted to him.”

Pope Francis remarked that Fr Alfredo exemplified the qualities of his native Crema, notably his “robust piety, generous labour, simple living, and missionary fervour.” These virtues continue today, he said, not only in missionaries like Fr Andrea Mandonico – who was present for the audience – and Fr Pierluigi Maccalli, held captive in Niger and Mali for two years; but also in the people of Crema. Father Alfredo’s missionary voice, he said, is also entrusted “to all of you, to your words, and above all to your experience as a Christian community.”

Blessed Alfredo Cremonesi
Blessed Alfredo Cremonesi

Characteristics of missionaries

Recalling some words of Fr Alfredo, the Pope said that the “missionary spirit” recognizes that it is God who works through missionaries, and that missionaries themselves should be characterized by “humility, joy, and amazement.”

He recalled, too, the story of St Lawrence, who, when called to turn over the treasures of the Church to Roman persecutors, presented the poor of Rome. “We can say that this is the treasure of the Church,” the Pope continued: “It is you, it is us, all poor before God and all rich in His infinite love, which is uniquely reflected in the eyes of each one, and to which we are witnesses and missionaries.”

Commitment and enthusiasm in the community journey

Pope Francis concluded his addess by encouraging the faithful of Crema “to continue your community journey with commitment and enthusiasm.” And he called on them to cultivate communion, collaboration, welcome and inclusion, education for the young, and care for the elderly, the poor, and the sick, as well as faithful stewardship of creation.

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15 April 2023, 12:26