Left with some sixty pilgrims forming the Fratello delegation for the Var, Father Alexis Wiehe, in charge of Diakonia for the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, has words that strike him when he speaks of Fratello. “Fratello is a call. An appeal that we must all hear, for in Heaven the preferential option for the poor will be a reminder of what we have done … or not done. ” When he evokes the three days in Rome, one feels like a saturation of strong emotions and conversions. “On Saturday evening, when we had already lived two incredible days, with the audience of the Pope on Friday and testimonies in the language groups on Saturday, it almost took to be violent to stand out for the procession. And yet … No one regretted, on the contrary. This will have been a key moment in the pilgrimage. ” The pilgrims, gathered by national groups proudly displaying the colors of their respective countries, walked through the streets of Rome to the Holy Door of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. In the light of the candles, the line collected by the poorest led by Cardinal Barbarin, flanked by acolytes chosen among the pilgrims, appealed to the passers-by of Rome.
On arrival at Saint Paul, the emotion was palpable. The vigil began in meditation and singing. A hundred priests on the sides of the basilica confessed those who wished. Others, without receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, felt the need to speak to a priest, sometimes for the first time. The witnesses are discreet, but at the turn of a phrase or a smile, one can guess the prodigies that have taken place in the hearts of the pilgrims.
“The challenge now,” explains Father Alexis, “it is in the long term that our parishes welcome these parishioners who are not used to seeing. It will probably be long, but I am very confident: time is our ally! We had the same questions at the return of the first WYD: how to integrate younger parishioners and not necessarily a great habit of parochial functioning. You see that, more than 20 years later, the results are rather positive and they found their place! A week after Rome, the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon closed the Holy Door of Notre Dame Cathedral under the direction of Bishop Rey. Many pilgrims from Fratello were there as well. Signs of a new beginning.