‘The Gospel heals’ – at WYD Miguel will give his testimony before the Pope, on how he beat drugs
Monica de la Morena
Just a few years ago, if anyone had told Miguel that he would be speaking to Pope Francis in front of thousands of young people in Poland, telling how he overcame his addiction to drugs, he would never have believed them. Miguel Ángel Vera is from Paraguay, 34-years-old and full of life. At the present time he is living in Uruguay, where he is responsible for running one of the centres known as Fazendas da Esperança, or “Farms of Hope” – centres recognised by the Church and now established in many countries around the world, which focus above all on helping young people to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.
“I’m going to tell them what God has done for me”, he says. Miguel knows that giving his remarkable testimony of new life at the Prayer Vigil at WYD on Saturday evening, 30th July in Krakow, will be a very important occasion. “It is not only about reading out what I have already prepared in front of the Pope. God has sent me to do something more than this – with the story of my life I am going to convey to them the mercy of God”, Miguel assures us with a voice of firm conviction during an interview with representatives of the Catholic charity and Pontifical Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
There was a before and an after, of course. Miguel is a shining example of how it is possible to overcome every difficulty, through “pardon, patience, service of others and generosity”. Just a few years ago, nobody in his family would even talk to him, “except my mother”, he explained pensively, adding afterwards that “mothers forgive everything”. After spending six years in prison and along with other various terrible experiences, Miguel returned to his family home. For the first month of his new life there, one priest called Padre Antonio, came to see him every day, inviting him to visit the local Fazenda da Esperança. “Every day for 30 days, the mercy of God came knocking on my door, and I turned him away”, he told ACN. But after so many times repeating, “I don’t want to go; don’t talk to me about God”, Miguel finally changed his mind and decided to visit the Fazenda. Throughout this time his mother prayed unceasingly for the conversion of her son, just like St Monica with her son St Augustine.
“As soon I arrived in the community, I felt at home, among my family”, Miguel stressed, adding that he felt “the embrace of God” just as soon as he crossed the threshold. “The Gospel heals”, he said in a tone of absolute conviction. “The Gospel heals”, he repeated.
Miguel is attending World Youth Day with a group of young people sponsored by ACN. The Catholic charity also supports a number of different projects for the Fazendas.
Picture: Miguel Ángel Vera at WYD in Krakow © Aid to the Church in NeedTags: Aid to the Church in Need, charity, Krakow, Miguel Ángel Vera, World Youth Day