Organization in Philly Suburbs Gives Hope to Children in Pope’s Homeland

[PHI POPE] villas 18 children
Karen Araiza

In his homeland of Argentina, Jorge Bergoglio was not known as the guy determined to get the top job in the Catholic Church.

His increased responsibilities first as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and then Cardinal, were already taking him away from the work he enjoyed most.

Before he was known around the world as Pope Francis, Fr. Jorge was a "slum priest" who spent as much time as he could in the poorest neighborhoods --  the Villas Miserias, or shantytowns of Buenos Aires. During my recent visit to Argentina with NBC10's Jim Rosenfield and Telemundo 62's Ramon Zayas, friends and staff who worked with him closely, interacting often on a daily basis, described Bergoglio to us as a man who certainly has strong feelings about leading by example, but his service to the poor also nourished him spiritually. He felt most comfortable, and comforted, they said, among the underserved.

Seminarian Patricio Lynch, who could pass as actor Ewan McGregor's younger brother, represents a new generation of slum priests and says much like the pope, he feels a profound connection to the families he works with in Villa 18, a neighborhood located about an hour outside the center of Buenos Aires.

Lynch, 37, spent time in Philadelphia a few years ago and during that time built a relationship with Amigos de Jesus, an organization based in Malvern, Chestesr County, Pennsylvania that helps children in Central America and Latin America. With funding from the organization, Lynch has started a scholarship program for young girls. This year, five middle schoolers in Villa 18 get to leave the neighborhood and attend classes at a private school. Lynch is convinced education is the best way out for kids born and raised in the barrios. You can learn more about his program and meet some of the people in our area who are funding this experiment by watching Jim Rosenfield's story:

As Philadelphia gets ready for the papal visit in September, we get a close look at where Pope Francis found his passion for the poor. NBC10’s Jim Rosenfield has more about some of the places the Pope visited in Argentina and how locals in Philadelphia are making a difference.
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