A poor church for the poor—that’s what newly-elected Pope Francis hopes to herald in his papal term. As I’m sure most of you already know who Pope Francis is, and have already made your own opinions about the man, allow me to share mine through this post.
Pope Francis, with his outgoing nature, warmth and affable charisma is, to me, an inspiration. The way he laid out his plans to aim for a church that’s poor, with a mission to serve mainly the poor, somewhat reminds me of my own father, Don Eñing, and how he wanted his businesses managed and conducted.
For years, the Lopez Group has done its best to make a mark in the lives of those who have less in life, evidenced by our numerous social responsibility projects ranging from supporting educational and livelihood programs to calamity relief and disaster risk reduction management. Our involvement in these matters is governed by a vision to improve the lives of Filipinos. Much as how Pope Francis favors humility and simplicity over pomp and grandeur, my father had also taught me the beauty in dedicating all my efforts for the betterment of my countrymen, guiding me in developing an ability to see the bigger picture by appealing to men of every rank, giving them the same respect that’s bound to trickle down in the most simplest of ways.
Another fact that strengthens my father’s ties with the current pope is the Catholic order in which they belong. Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis entered the Society of Jesus in 1958 and studied to become a priest at the Jesuit seminary in Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires City. My father was sent to the Ateneo de Manila to finish his AB degree under the tutelage of Spanish Jesuits under Fr. Villalonga. It was there where he spent seven years living as a boarder and subject to the same strict Jesuit discipline in the Ateneo from 1912 to 1919.
In all this, I feel blessed because of how the Jesuit vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience permeated in my upbringing, and of the lessons I learned from my time in the Ateneo, as well as the Jesuit institutions I attended.
The timely inauguration of Pope Francis’ papacy in the ongoing period of Lent makes for a perfect timing to start our lives with renewed hope and commitment for the sake of those in need. And as custodian of the Lopez values, qualities forged from every crisis my family has had to face throughout our history, I am here to remind you of how different it feels to embark on a journey that gets you closer and to be of service to people.
Just as how I was taught fairness, equality and respect, always know that each of you is called upon to serve as a custodian of the seven values we revere, and that everything you do is expected to have a positive impact on the community, the environment, and the nation on the whole.
Have a blessed Lent and a joyous Easter,
OSCAR M. LOPEZ