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Uruguay - Jope: "I'm interested in deepening my experience with the very poorest"

25 July 2017

(ANS - Villa García) - Juan Pablo Castro, affectionately called "Jope," studies Medicine, wants his life to be more like the Gospel, and tries to meet Christ among the poorest. He decided to leave the comfort of his family home to go to the house of the "old man" in the colony of Villa García and live a year's experience in the footsteps of the man who has inspired him since his childhood: St. Francis of Assisi.

How did the idea come about, that of living for a year at Villa García, near your oratorians, abandoning the comforts of your home in Punta Gorda?

My parents are practicing Catholics, close to the poorest and most disadvantaged. As a child I saw the movie "Brother Sun, Moon Sister" with them, a movie which marked me very much. While preparing for Confirmation, I began to reflect on what faith was for me, whether it was mine or a stranger's ... Furthermore, I am interested in deepening my experience with the poorest, the simplest, and I have the need to learn from them, from their simplicity, their way of seeing life, to find Christ in their midst, because it is here that Jesus wanted to remain, amid these faces, in people who suffer and who have no easy life.

What do your parents and your girlfriend think of your desire to live this experience?

The support of my family and my girlfriend are also a motivation for me. My parents have always been part of communities that are close to and serve the poorest ... And I also have the support of the man who is my Salesian referent: Fr Daniel Bernardoni.

Where will you live? Will you continue to carry out all your normal activities?

I will go to the home of Miguel Ángel Leiva, known as the "old man", in truth a landmark for the neighborhood and the oratory. He is a very humble person, devoid of almost any material goods ... This way, he shows his detachment from material goods and gives everything else to the others, without remorse.

Do you think your presence will add something to the Villa García community?

I will help the "old man" satisfy his basic needs, organize his meals, which of late have been worsening, to carry out daily chores. I mean to be a point of reference for kids in the neighborhood so they know they can count on me.

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