Vienna (Agenzia Fides) - From September 7 to 9, 2007, the Holy Father Benedict XVI made an Apostolic Journey to Austria, on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the foundation of the Mariazel Shrine. The national direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Austria, "Missio", greeted the arrival of Benedict XVI in Austria with a poster created for the occasion, placed in the streets of the capital, in which the Pope appeared with four children. The text read: "A moment with Missio... look at Christ, open your heart and give love" and was inspired by the motto of the Pope's visit ("Look at Christ"), inviting children to also be placed, together with the Holy Father, at the Center of attention.
More than 500 Austrian children had responded to Missio's appeal to send letters and drawings to the Pope, illustrating the motto of the visit "Look at Christ." The letters and drawings collected in a book were delivered to Benedict XVI on Sunday, September 9, immediately after the Angelus on the "Stephansplatz" in Vienna, by the then National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Maasburg, together with five children chosen by lot.
After the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father addressed the children who participated in the initiatives of the Pontifical Society for Missionary Childhood and, thanking them for the letters they had addressed to him, he gave them a letter in response. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the letters and drawings that you wanted to give me as signs of your affection and closeness to my mission," the Pope wrote. "They express those sentiments of faith and love for which Jesus loved the little ones so much and welcomed them with open arms, pointing them out as an example for his disciples". Then Benedict XVI continued: "I would like to tell you that I greatly appreciate your commitment to Missionary Childhood. I see in you little collaborators at the service that the Pope provides to the Church and to the world: you support me with your prayers and also with your commitment to spreading the Gospel". Benedict XVI then recalled that many children still do not know Jesus, and unfortunately many others do not have what is necessary to live: food, healthcare, education; many lack peace and serenity. "The Church pays special attention to them, above all through the missionaries; and you too feel called to offer your contribution, both personally and as a group", the Pope's letter continued, "friendship with Jesus is such a beautiful gift that one cannot keep to oneself! Whoever receives this gift feels the need to pass it on to others; and thus the gift, shared, does not diminish but multiplies. Keep going! You are growing up and soon you will become adolescents and young people: do not lose your missionary spirit! Always maintain a clear and authentic faith, like that of Saint Peter".
Also in the last meeting of Benedict XVI before his farewell ceremony from Austria, with members of Church volunteer organizations and civil society, with whom he met at the Wiener Konzerthaus on Sunday afternoon, September 9, the Holy Father mentioned the commitment of the "Star Singers". Benedict XVI expressed his satisfaction with the marked "culture of volunteering" in Austria, and thanked "every woman, every man, every young person and every child - the volunteering of children is impressive; just think of the work of the 'Sternsingers' in the Christmas season... Above all, I would also like to thank them for those small and large services and efforts that are not always seen". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 4/1/2023)
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