Sep 16, 2019 | 862 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print

I am very proud of Pope Francis and his current trip to the Republic of Madagascar which is an island republic just off the coast of east Africa, in the Indian Ocean. It is composed of one main island and several peripheral islands. Madagascar holds several distinctions such as being "the world's 2nd largest island country" and, perhaps more importantly, it has a rich abundance of exotic wildlife. It is said that "over 90% of its wildlife cannot be found anywhere else on earth".  It is an island nation that is often overlooked and most Americans cannot readily point to it on a map, unless first prompted. 
It is important to remember that, according to the U.S. State Department, approximately 41% of the people in Madagascar practice Christianity.  That is likely why Pope Francis went there:  to boost the morale of the faithful and to spread the Gospel.  In my opinion, although many Popes have traveled to foreign lands: Pope Francis makes a concerted effort to "go off the beaten path"  and showcase areas that other Popes probably wouldn't have visited. Furthermore, Pope Francis is trying to spread a message that "Poverty is not inevitable"and that the poor deserve the dignity of work.  He even visited a rock quarry to illustrate that any type of laboring is dignified work and thus beneficial to the person performing the work, and beneficial to Society as a whole.  In many ways, the United States could take a cue from this lesson.
Despite its vast resources, Madagascar remains one of the poorest nations on earth. An incredible 75% of Madagascar's 24 million people live on less that $2 a day; and only 13% of the population has access to electricity.
Those statistics should make us in Gilmer, Texas, and surrounding communities stop and ponder how blessed we are !!  An estimated one million worshippers braved the windswept dust of a violent dust storm to attend a Mass presided over by Pope Francis on September 8th, in the country's largest city of Antananarivo.  That shows devotion by the Pontiff and genuine dedication by those Christians who came to worship.
The Pope's final stop in his journey is another smaller island nation of Mauritius. I have a special feeling toward the island of Mauritius. One of its smaller-sized towns is Rose Hill, Mauritius and I once lived in the small town of Rose Hill, Kansas, for 38 years of my life.  In 2016, Pope Francis named the first-ever Cardinal for Mauritius, Maurice Evenor (Cardinal) Piat, who served and still serves as bishop of Port-Louis, Mauritius. He was only installed as a Cardinal  this past November 25, 2018. So, the Pope's visit is a landmark visit.
I wish Pope Francis well and hope his journeys will remind us all (even us in Texas) that 'small places matter'.
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