Framingham pastor tells of working with pope in homeland

Sister Elisete Signor (far left) and the Rev. Volmar Scaravelli discussed the pontiff at St. Tarcisius Church in Framingham.
Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Sister Elisete Signor (far left) and the Rev. Volmar Scaravelli discussed the pontiff at St. Tarcisius Church in Framingham.

FRAMINGHAM — “This pope will see the world from the poor and humble peoples’ [perspective],” said the Rev. ­Volmar Scaravelli, pastor at St. Tarcisius Church in Framingham, who spent five years working with the newly named Pope Francis.

“This is very important for social justice,” he said following a Mass for the new pontiff at the church Wednesday evening. “I hope he will be the pope of the social worker and the poor and will do a good job.”

About 100 people cheered and clapped as a photo of ­Francis, the first pontiff from South America, flashed up on the giant projector screen at the front of the church during the Mass, which was said in Portuguese. Scaravelli spoke to the congregants about the history of Francis and the experiences he had with the then-cardinal in Buenos Aires.


From 1997 to 2002, said Scaravelli, he worked with then-Cardinal Jorge Mario ­Bergoglio, and the priest ­described him as a man of the people.

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“I have good, good experiences with him,” Scaravelli said. “He is a nice man, a humble man.”

The Mass focused mainly on the new leader of the world’s Catholics. The atmosphere was buzzing with positive energy, as attendees of all ages sang and prayed. Photos of Francis were displayed as Scaravelli spoke.

Working with Bergoglio, Scaravelli served as the executive secretary for the conference of the bishop in Argentina, he said. Scaravelli said Bergoglio would always take a bus to go from parish to parish to be with the people.

When asked what he thinks the new pope may be feeling, Scaravelli said it was probably shock.


“Last time he was the candidate, many people talked about him,” he said about Francis’s chances in the 2005 election, when the recently retired Pope Benedict XVI was chosen. “But now, [at 76 years old], he didn’t [expect] this.

“I think it’s a good thing, not just for the church, but for the world.”

Parishioner Elisete Signor was surprised that the new pontiff was an Argentine and pointed to his humility.

“What most impressed me is [Francis] never had a car,” she said. “He said prayers with the poor, that is not something you would expect the big boss to do.”

Signor said she was from the same town as Scaravelli in ­Brazil and worked with him as a Scalabrinian missionary sister. She said he often mentioned Bergoglio.


“I love that connection and simplicity with the people” that Francis has, Signor added.

‘He is a nice man, a humble man.’

She also said she was excited about what the choice of ­Francis means to South America.

Scaravelli said the election of Francis meant so many things for Argentina and all of South America. “It presents honor for Argentina, not just Argentina but for all of us in South America,” he said. “It is good for all the people, for the church, and outside of the church.”

Scaravelli felt the name Francis was perfect for the new pope. “It was appropriate, because [the new pope] imitated St. Francis of Assisi. Francis is the saint of the poor and young and nature.”

Derek J. Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson@