[Province of España-South] Pope Francis, on his apostolic trip to Morocco, visited the Rural Social Services Center in Temara run by the Daughters, España-South Province. The center is located in a rural area on the outskirts of Temara, 20 km from Rabat. This Center was established in 1975 and currently is served by 3 Sisters with their Moroccan co-workers.
The Pope was received by the Sisters and a group of children from the support classes and canteen, dressed in their best clothes, who welcomed him with a lovely song and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. He was greeted also by the women of the literacy and promotion classes who waited at the entrance of the Centre waving their banners with genuine enthusiasm.
Then Pope Francis went to the hall of the small hospital (for people with burns, psychiatric illnesses, and children who are malnourished or underweight) where lay people and Sisters were waiting for him. First, with the affection that characterizes him, he caressed the children, shook hands of each one of those present and in some cases, he became interested in a special way a Sister was explaining and translating what was necessary.
We had the privilege to speak with him in an unusual closeness, in a really fraternal, simple and spontaneous atmosphere. He left us a deep message and gave us the opportunity to enjoy his kindness and sense of humor; he seemed to be relaxed, smiling, close to us.
The Sisters of the Moroccan mission told him where they were placed and when He greeted the interprovincial community of Melilla he said that the day before he had cried. When asked why, he told us, “Someone showed me the fence of Melilla; I could not believe what I saw… a fence with “blades!” What a lack of humanity! And all for money.”
Another Sister told him that his visit was the best gift that we could have and He smiled saying, “There are much more important and better gifts: those poor, those children (pointing to those who were in the room) – are the best gift, as it is they who make us stand at the tabernacle, they dislodge us and make us fight for them.
We explained to Him that of the 6 communities in Morocco, our Province has another 6 in the Islamic world spread in Algeria, Mauritania, and Tunisia. He told us that this service would be seeds of vocations in Spain. He encouraged us to continue with the poor, with the little ones. He used the phrase already familiar to us from his words to youth… keep “making a mess.”
To other comments, he answered with humor. When we thanked him for his messages calling to build bridges and to be merciful … He, with a spark in his eyes, told us that not everyone liked it.
Before leaving the Centre, He agreed very gently to have a picture with us and the Archbishop of Rabat who took the opportunity to say, “after the Pope’s visit, it is clear that the community of the Moroccan mission had to be reinforced.”
Before getting into his vehicle, He jokes about the “Cornette” the Daughters wore with their old habit, highlighting the “danger” for passengers when we traveled in public transport…
After we went to the Eucharist that put a final touch to Holy Father’s presence in Morocco, a celebration very well enlivened by the magnificent choir formed by four hundred sub-Saharan Africans. His speeches, as well as the Eucharist homily, can be found on Vatican webpage.
This summary poorly expresses what we lived. We deeply appreciate the opportunity to enjoy this close encounter with Peters’ successor. Who could imagine it! We also thank the Sisters of Temara for their extraordinary welcome.