Pope Francis on September 8, 2019, visited the City of Friendship in Akamasoa, Madagascar, a project started 30 years ago by Fr. Pedro Pablo Opeka, 71, a missionary priest from the Holy Father’s native Argentina. Following his address to the crowd, he led them in the following prayer, written especially for the occasion.
God our Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
we thank you for gathering us as brothers and sisters in this place. Before this rock, split by human labor,
we pray to you for workers everywhere.
We pray for those who work with their hands and with immense physical effort:
soothe their wearied frames,
that they may tenderly caress their children and join in their games.
Grant them unfailing spiritual strength and physical health, lest they succumb beneath the burden of their labors.
Grant that the fruits of their work
may ensure a dignified life to their families.
May they come home at night to warmth, comfort, and encouragement and together, under your gaze, find true joy.
May our families know that the joy of earning our daily bread becomes perfect when that bread is shared.
May our children not be forced to work,
but receive schooling and continue their studies,
and may their teachers devote themselves fully to their task, without needing other work to make a decent living.
God of justice, touch the hearts of owners and managers.
May they make every effort
to ensure that workers receive a just wage
and enjoy conditions respectful of their human dignity.
Father, in your mercy, take pity on those who lack work. May unemployment – the cause of such great misery – disappear from our societies.
May all know the joy and dignity of earning their daily bread and bringing it home to support their loved ones.
Create among workers a spirit of authentic solidarity. May they learn to be attentive to one another,
To encourage one another, to support those in difficulty and to lift up those who have fallen.
Let their hearts not yield to hatred, resentment or bitterness in the face of injustice.
May they keep alive their hope for a better world, and work to that end.
Together, may they constructively defend their rights.
Grant that their voices and demands may be heard.
God our Father, you have made Saint Joseph,
foster-father of Jesus and courageous spouse of the Virgin Mary, protector of workers throughout the world.
To him, I entrust all those who labor here, at Akamasoa, and all the workers of Madagascar,
especially those experiencing uncertainty and hardship.
May he keep them in the love of your Son
and sustain them in their livelihood and in their hope. Amen.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican