“My people are poor and I am one of them” says Pope Francis. He’s the pope who takes the bus and subway, cooks his meals, visits the poor, has a low-key style, speaks more than three languages and most especially loves soccer and tango. Who would have thought that this person has a strong devotion to Mary and can bring such impact to the world?
Born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Italian Immigrant Parents, Pope Francis was said to be the first pope from the Latin America. He graduated from Escuela Nacional de Educacion Tecnica as a chemical technician. Upon graduation, he worked in the food section at the Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory. However, he did not continue the same for long as he realized his true calling and ventured into priesthood. At the age of 21, he fell gravely ill and so he eventually got diagnosed with severe pneumonia which made his right lung partially removed.
On March 11, 1958, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus and after some time, he took his first vow as Jesuit. It did not take long before he got a hold in the studying of humanities in Padre Hurtado, Chile and Philosophy at San Miguel Seminary, Buenos Aires – from where he came from. Fulfilling the call of Jesuit, he taught high school literature and psychology at the Jesuit Secondary School in Santa Fe and not long at the prestigious Colegio de Salvador Secondary School in Buenos Aires. In 1967, he studied Theology at San Miguel Seminary.
On December 13, 1969, he was ordained priest and immediately served as master of novices and vice chancellor at the San Miguel seminary too. In late 1970’s he took perpetual profession as a Jesuit and served as superior of Jesuit Province in Argentina and Uruguay. He also taught theology and served as rector in Colegio Maximo. In 1986, he eventually flew to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis. On June 27,1992, he was then ordained as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. Not long on February 28, 1998, he was installed as archbishop too.
Pope Francis is indeed a devoted man. On February 21, 2001, he was elevated to the rank of cardinal. In 2005, he received the second highest number of votes in conclave that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope. In the same year until 2011, he served as president at the Argentina Bishops Conference. Then on March 13, 2013, he was elected pope by conclave of 115 cardinals.
This year, Pope Francis will bring the message of “mercy and compassion” to at least 11 different venues in the province of Leyte and Metro Manila during his Apostolic Visit to the Philippines on January 15-19, 2015. It is unquestionable that he captured the hearts of millions of people in the whole wide world by his approachability, hardwork, compassion, and humility.
Mary Antoinette V. Cabanting