Pope Francis on Monday received in the Vatican a group of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who are being treated at a clinic in St. Polten, Austria. He thanked all for the wonderful work for the youngsters.
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis expressed his delight at meeting the group of 42, including children with ASD, their parents and the staff of Ambulatorium Sonnenschein where they are treated. “Welcome to the Vatican! I am happy to see your faces, and I read it in your eyes that you too are happy to be here with me for a while,” he told the group.
The children undergo therapy at Ambulatorium Sonnenschein or the Sunshine Outpatient Clinic, which was established in 1995. The treatment combines diagnosis, advice and therapy for children and adolescents with special needs under one roof.
Flowers in a meadow
“Your house is called “Sunshine”, a beautiful name!” the Pope said, adding, there is a reason behind it.
“It is because your house is like a magnificent blooming meadow in the sunshine and you are the flowers of this “Sunshine” house!” He explained that God created the world with a great variety of flowers of all colours, and every flower has its beauty, which is unique.
“Each of us,” the Pope said, “is also beautiful in God’s eyes, and God loves us.” Hence, we need to thank God for it.
“Thank you for the gift of life, for all creatures! Thank you for mom and dad! Thank you for our families! And thank you also for the friends from the “Sunshine” centre!” the Pope said. Gratitude, he explained, is a beautiful prayer that is pleasing to God.
He told the children they can also ask Jesus to help their parents with their work or comfort the grandmother who is a bit sick. They can ask Jesus to help children around the world who have nothing to eat or even help the Pope to lead the Church well. “If you ask with faith, the Lord will surely hear you,” the Pope assured them.
Pope Francis concluded his meeting, thanking all those present, including the clinic staff. “Thank you for this beautiful initiative and for your commitment to the little ones entrusted to you,” he said, adding, “Everything that you have done for one of these little ones, you have done it to Jesus!”