QUITO, Ecuador — Everyone at the Vatican is praying for the fruits of the Pope’s apostolic visit to Latin America, but there is one person with a special insight into the papal trip.
Sister Andrea Romero Saltos is an Idente Missionary and the only Ecuadorian woman working at the Holy See.
“I’m really happy. … Yesterday we saw him arrive (in Ecuador) and I felt a lot of joy and a lot of hope, because the visit of the Holy Father is truly the hope of the Gospel. ... I know it’s going to be a grace for every person, for homes, for families,” Sister Andrea told CNA July 6.
Speaking from the Vatican, where she serves as an official on the Pontifical Council for Latin America, she called on people to open their hearts and doors to those outside the Church, “because the Pope as the Vicar of Christ is going through this life with the intention of doing good and embracing everyone with the love of the Father.”
Ecuador is the first Latin American country the Holy Father is visiting on his June 5-13 apostolic trip. For Sister Andrea, this is no coincidence, but a message of hope.
Ecuador could probably be considered the outskirts of the world, she said. With this visit, the Pope is “calling on us to go out to the outskirts, not just geographically, but the fringes of society where people live.”
“In a certain way, I’d say it’s a small country, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Pope Francis would have decided to begin his first apostolic trip to the Americas in Ecuador. It’s a beautiful sign, calling on every one to come out, to come and embrace all of humanity coming from these outskirts, their pain and their suffering,” she said.
Sister Andrea said she is “very happy” to know that so many people struggling with life’s difficulties can receive the grace and lasting joy that the Pope is bringing.
“This is the joy that lasts forever and ever, not the joys of this world, but as the Holy Father says, this is the joy of the Gospel, the joy that you’ve found Christ in your life, the joy that gives your life a horizon, a greater dimension,” she added.
Ecuador, the missionary sister continued, is a Catholic country, a religious people that every day strives to strengthen and renew its faith.
“It’s a Church on the move, in mission, with the desire to live in communion with the Pope, and to show it. I think that like the whole Latin American Church … Ecuador wants to truly live out the mission for the entire continent, in which all Christians and all Catholics might live by the grace received in baptism.”
“We’re all called to be missionaries and to bear witness to our faith in our daily lives, it’s a challenge to live a life of holiness and mission in our day to day lives. I think it’s a Church that is on the journey, growing, and more and more missionary.”
On July 6, his first day in Ecuador, Pope Francis has already visited the Divine Mercy Shrine in Guayaquil.
“The Holy Father carefully selects concrete signs. … I think it’s a preamble to the Jubilee Year of Mercy that we’ll begin at the end of the year. He said it: ‘I’m coming with this embrace of the Father.’ It’s like the open doors of mercy where we can all enter in. I believe the Pope is visiting this shrine to place before us this external sign so we can bring everyone to discover this merciful embrace of our heavenly Father,” Sister Andrea said.
Also commenting on the Pope’s visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Quinche, the patroness of Ecuador, the religious sister said, “the Ecuadorian people are very Marian. There’s a great devotion, love and confidence in the Virgin Mary’s help, and the Holy Father wanted to come visit her.”