MANILA, Philippines – Father Luciano Felloni of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Camarin, Caloocan City strongly believed that the country and its people will trigger emotional response from Pope Francis as he comes to visit early next year.
Fr. Felloni, an Argentinian missionary, has been staying in the Philippines for two decades now, particularly reaching out to those in Payatas, Quezon City.
Fr. Felloni was also a former compatriot of Pope Francis. He recalled being a seminarist in Buenos Aires when he first met the Pope who was Jorge Mario Bergoglio back then. The young seminarist often confessed to Bergoglio because he was approachable, attentive, and always made himself available.
The Parish priest shared what he knew about the Pope, like how the latter’s parents were immigrants who struggled with poverty.
With this, Fr. Felloni said that Pope Francis will be able to connect, relate and sympathize with Filipinos, especially with the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.
“May mga traits na I think he will identify very much with Filipinos. Yung isa is, anak ng immigrants siya. Maraming mga Filipino na OFW. Tatay niya ay naging OFW in Argentina,” he said in an interview.
(There are traits that I think he will identify very much with Filipinos. One of which is, he is a son of immigrants. A lot of Filipinos are OFWs. His father became an OFW in Argentina.)
“Yung mga ninuno namin na mga Argentinians ay karamihan OFWs na dala ng kahirapan ay tumakas ng sariling bansa para maghanap ng kapalaran. I think that’s a chord that will touch (the heart of the Pope),” he added, acknowledging that his grandparents were also migrant workers.
(Most of our Argentinian forefathers are OFWs who, because of poverty, were compelled to escape their motherland to find luck. I think that’s a chord that will touch the heart of the Pope.)
Fr. Felloni also commended the Filipino’s hospitality which he thought will highly be appreciated by the Pope.
“Definitely the (hospitality). Filipinos (are the best) when it comes to welcoming. Yung pagtanggap sa kanya definitely mararamdaman niya mula eroplano hanggang sa pag-alis. Iba ang Pilipino sa pag-tanggap,” noted Felloni.
(Definitely the hospitality. Filipinos are the best when it comes to welcoming. He will definitely feel the people’s hospitality from his arrival until departure. Filipinos stand out when it comes to giving warm welcomes.)
According to Fr. Felloni, Pope Francis was also without a “King’s aura.” The Pope’s undemanding and less formal approach to the papacy proved this as the poor, the youth, and the elderly were the ones closest to his heart.
With report from Cyra Moraleda