Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Meet the three people Pope Francis wanted front and center

More than 130 official delegations were present during the Pope's Inaugural Mass. About 50 religious leaders were also there, sitting up close to the Pope. All these people will surely be part of the Vatican's official photo archive, but another group will most likely make it to thePope's personal family album. It's a group that's very special to Pope Francis. 

JOSÉ MARÍA DEL CORRAL -'Escuela de Vecinos' Educational Program, Director
“The Pope said people shouldn't come all the way from Argentina for the Mass, but in this case, I had to ignore his advice. I was in the elevator and I bumped into him. I said 'How should I refer to you now?' The Pope said, 'Call me Jorge, what else?' I started crying and he told me he wanted me to sit in the area set up for his family.”

José María del Corral is a teacher in Argentina. For 15 years he worked directly with Pope Francis, who back then was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The teacher launched an educational program called 'Escuela de Vecinos' which translates to 'School of Neighbors.' It brings together young people of different religions who attend either private of public schools. The goal is to improve society through education. 

JOSÉ MARÍA DEL CORRAL -'Escuela de Vecinos' Educational Program, Director
“We set up the first school, to teach kids about respecting others. That's the most important thing. It's part of our belief system, but it's also in the Jewish tradition, and the Talmud. The concept of respecting your neighbor. From these discussions the kids started talking about other issues youths deal with, like drugs, violence. So we talk about this and what they can do to change things.”

Fellow Argentine, Sergio Sanchez was another personal guest of Pope Francis. He makes a living by collecting recyclable waste like paper, bottles and plastic. He then sells to recycling shops. On many occasions, Cardinal Bergoglio, celebrated Mass with these workers, in the poorest slums, to show support. 

SERGIO SANCHEZ -Excluded Workers Movement (Argentina) 
“I completely support the Pope. Every year he celebrates Mass with people who live by sewing clothes, picking up trash or even modern day slaves who are exploited constantly at work and excluded from society. He has always made it a point to celebrate Mass with them. I was able to personally congratulate him before he met with all the dignitaries and presidents. We're like family and that's how he greeted us-like family.”

The Pope's third guest was Ana Rosa, who is actually his cousin. She's a missionary sister who works in Thailand and obviously knows the Pope quite well. So among all the heads of state and dignitaries, there was one special row of guests, reserved for a teacher, a man who lives off of recycling and a nun.

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