The following comes from EWTN News:
At the conclusion of an audience Pope Francis granted to the Papal Foundation last Friday, Mexican actor Eduardo Verastegui received a special request from the Pontiff to focus on the youth.
As he was about to leave Clementine Hall where the papal audience had occured, Pope Francis stepped away from his entourage and approached Verastegui, telling him, “Don’t forget about the young people!”
In an interview with EWTN News, Verastegui acknowledged that these words touched him.
“There are many tours around the world, and I often go to colleges and institutes to share my testimony, and I thought about taking a break to devote myself more to film and focus the apostolate more in that direction,” he said. “It was a decision I had already made, but suddenly hearing that call from the Pope had a great impact on me.”
The actor said that meeting Pope Francis was “awesome,” because he was able to speak to the Holy Father in his native language.
“We firmly connected with each other from the start,” Verastegui said. “I wanted to say a million things to him, but there wasn’t enough time. I asked him to pray for us and for the apostolate of making films to heal hearts.”
He asked the Holy Father if he could sidestep protocol and give him a hug.
“He told me, ‘Of course!’ I hugged him and he gave a few pats on the back and whispered, ‘Pray for me!’ And he gave me his blessing. It was a very magical moment for me.”
The Mexican actor spent four days in Rome but said the encounter with Pope Francis was the most special moment of the trip.
“His example pulls you in, and an example speaks more than a thousand words. Each action is his message, in which you can sense the legacy of detachment from material things and seeing material things as an end for helping the needy, and the way in which he is handling things with simplicity and humility…it touches people and stirs their consciences, and at the same time it makes them think about what is really important.”
“Sometimes the world eats you up and absorbs you, and to suddenly see such a fresh and free example makes you stick to the will of God united in Christ at every moment,” the actor continued.
Verastegui said he admires the Pope for naming himself after St. Francis of Assisi, because “to follow his legacy is sort of revolutionary today, in a society that is so materialistic, consumeristic and superficial.”
The Mexican actor said young people need to learn the essence of being a Christian, which “is to struggle until death, and each day we need to bring order to what is disordered, to purify what is unclean in our hearts and to let God heal all the wounds and impurities that we have.”
Verastegui is in Europe promoting his recent film, “For Greater Glory.” His previous film, “Bella,” was very successful, and he is currently working on a new film entitled “Little Boy.”
For the past seven years, the actor has been a member of the Papal Foundation, which assists the Holy Father in projects he considers necessary, such as the creation of seminaries, schools, efforts devoted to the New Evangelization and service to those most in need.
The foundation meets each year in Rome to renew its fidelity to the Pope, and this year it has earmarked $8.6 million for various projects.