(CNA/EWTN News) – As thousands of youth gather in Krakow this week for World Youth Day with Pope Francis, hundreds of undocumented immigrants in Texas who couldn’t make it got a special message from the pontiff.
“Dear youth of the diocese of Brownsville…I want to be close to you. I want to tell you to always look forward, always look to the horizon. Don’t let life put walls in front of you, always look to the horizon,” the Pope said in a July 26 video message to the Texan youth.
“Always have the courage to want more, more and more…but courageously, while not forgetting to look back at the heritage that you have received from your ancestors, from your grandparents, from your parents; the legacy of your faith, this faith which now you have in your hands as you look forward.”
On Tuesday the diocese of Brownsville hosted a diocesan-wide event called the World Youth Encounter, set to coincide with the official July 26 launch of WYD in Krakow, Poland. The event took place at St. Anne Parish in the impoverished Peñitas area of the city.
Many families in the community, which numbers around 10,000, live in circumstances of extreme poverty, and some even lack running water and sewage systems.
The extreme levels of poverty and the lack of a legal immigration status made it impossible for many of the youth to make it to Poland, which is why the Pope decided to send the youth the special message in Spanish.
He told the youth to “play life to the full! Take the memory you have received, look toward the horizon and, today, take the reality and advance it, making it bear fruit, making it fertile.”
“God is calling you to be fruitful! God is calling you to transmit this life. God is calling you to create hope. God is calling you to receive mercy and to give mercy. God is calling you to be happy,” Francis said, telling the youth “don’t be afraid! Play life to the fullest.”
Before leaving for the airport to go to Krakow July 27, Pope Francis met with 15 young refugees in a similar situation at his residence in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse.
The group was made of nine boys and six girls from different nationalities who recently arrived in Italy, and still don’t have the documents needed enabling them to travel abroad.
According to a July 27 communique from the Vatican, the youth were accompanied by Vatican Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, wished the Pope a good trip and a “joyful participation” in WYD.
Since they couldn’t join in person, the youth said they would be “participating spiritually.”