Source: Vatican Media
On Saturday night, more than 8,000 young people gathered for a prayer vigil with Pope Francis in Akomasosa, the 'City of Friendship' begun 30 years ago by Fr Pedro Pablo Opeka, an Argentinian missionary, (who was once a theology student of the then Fr Bergoglio).
The Association has helped create housing for more than 25,000 people, developing 18 villages, complete with dispensaries and schools that provide education for some 14,000 children.
Pope Francis said Akomasosa was "an expression of God's presence in the midst of his people who are poor... Every corner of these neighbourhoods, every school or dispensary is a song of hope that refutes and silences any suggestion that some things are "inevitable". Let us say it forcefully: poverty is not inevitable!"
The Pope described this City of Friendship as one "that you built with your own hands... The building blocks of teamwork and a sense of family and community have enabled you to rebuild, with patience and skill, your confidence not only in yourselves but also in one another," he said.
The Pope invited the young people present never to stop "fighting the baneful effects of poverty." "This great work accomplished by your elders, is now yours to carry forward," he said.
Pope Francis invited the young people to remain faithful "to the values of hard work, discipline, honesty, self-respect and respect for others." He stressed how this experience has helped them understand that "God's dream is not only for our personal development, but essentially for the development of the community, and that there is no worse form of slavery… than to live only for ourselves."
Finally, the Pope prayed that this ray of light will spread, "so that we can enact models of development that support the fight against poverty and social exclusion, on the basis of trust, education, hard work and commitment, for these are always indispensable for the dignity of the human person."
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