See Christ in the Needy, Pope Exhorts Sisters of the Poor of St. Catherine

Also Emphasizes Importance of Contemplative Prayer

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2003 ( John Paul II received in audience the Sisters of the Poor of St. Catherine of Siena and reminded them to recognize the face of Christ in every needy person.

Recalling the teachings of their founder, Mother Savina Petrilli (1851-1923), whom he beatified 15 years ago, the Pope encouraged the sisters in their commitment «to never abandon the poor whom God gave us as brothers.»

The central message of Mother Petrilli, an Italian religious who was also a missionary in Latin America, was to see the face of Christ «in every needy person,» the Holy Father recalled at the audience Friday.

He urged the Sisters of the Poor to educate hearts to love, to be heroic in charity, and to be «available to welcome every person, whatever poverty they represent.»

«Joining contemplation to action, pursue, dear Sisters, your ecclesial service, which flourishes in prayer as ‘the flower from the root,'» the Pope said. «In our time, it is more than ever necessary to reaffirm the primacy of listening to God and of contemplation.»

The Sisters of the Poor, who are holding their general chapter on the topic «A Gift to Give, the Charismatic Face of a Sister of the Poor,» work in Italy, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, India, the Philippines and Paraguay.

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