In four days in Slovakia, Pope Francis gave warm words of encouragement to all the people of the country, including its religious and ethnic
minorities. His apostolic visit between 12-15 September brought us
unforgettable moments. We were embraced by the amiable presence of the Pope as the
people, as the local Church, but no less as the community of Jesuit companions.
Already before arriving in Bratislava, the Holy Father
invited all of us Jesuits of the Slovak Province to a meeting at the Nunciature
on the first evening, immediately after his arrival. We were 53 confreres, some
also from their missions in Rome, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic.
We were together with Pope Francis for an hour and a
half in a sharing, spiritual and prayerful atmosphere. With a freedom to
express oneself and give space even to jokes. One gesture says it all: on
arrival the Pope did not go to the large armchair prepared for him in the
Nunciature hall, but instead took a chair among the others, to be very close to
us. The Pope made us feel like brothers in the full sense.
The meeting took place
without the presence of the media, in order to have an atmosphere of complete
trust and without fomalities. A rosary for each person as a gift from the Pope
underlined his message of being above all united to the Lord in prayer. From
the Slovak Province we prepared three symbolic gifts for him. The first one
involved our collaborators in the apostolate: children and families from the “Family
Aid Centre” in Trnava, who had prepared for the Holy Father a big flower made
of paper cut from photos of people, including portraits of the candidates for
beatification: Tomáš Munk and his father František and the missionary Vendelín