I first met our Pope Francis when I entered the Society in Argentina. During my almost 3 years there, “Padre Jorge” was my Rector and we lived in the same house. Right from the beginning, we were all amazed at his creativity and multi-faceted way of leading. He could give a lecture, cook for all of us, or suddenly organize a rescue team when an emergency struck the neighborhood. I remember his good sense of humor and his clever use of irony to transmit the lessons and maxims that he wanted us to learn.
Even though he was not the Provincial at that time, he was the one who encouraged me most to become a missionary in Japan. I remember him telling us that in his generation they were not given the chance to become missionaries and so, since we had this opportunity, we should see it as a gift from the Lord. I am glad I followed that advice.
In spite of his busy schedule, he always kept contact with and encouraged us in our mission. We were quite surprised when he became bishop and subsequently Pope Francis. When he visited Japan, I had the privilege of sharing some time with him, and I feel that he still has the same teaching spirit that he had 40 years ago. His way of speaking is still informal and friendly, making it as easy to talk with him as a friend or family. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless and guide him.