When the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) started its Freedom from Hunger food drive in 2015 to commemorate the visit of Pope Francis, it committed to holding the event in perpetuity.
That promise was spelled out in a large-scale proclamation given to the Pontiff by Josh Shapiro — now Pa. Attorney General, then Montgomery County Commissioner Chairman.
Shapiro presented Pope Francis with the elaborate, framed document when meeting him at St. Charles Seminary in Wynnewood.
As the hunger drive unfolded over the following years, the VFTCB leadership, under President & CEO Mike Bowman, wanted to ensure that Pope Francis knew of the organization’s ongoing efforts against an issue he held so dear.
Bowman — on behalf of his VFTCB colleagues and the corps of Freedom from Hunger partners — wrote an update letter to send to Rome.
It informed the Pope of the years’ worth of donations (thousands of pounds of food and thousands of dollars) that were continuing to serve the needs of Montgomery County’s food-insecure residents.
“We … wanted the office of Pope Francis, the Vatican, and the Catholic Church to know that the impact of the 2015 visit of Your Holiness to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, and His continued leadership, is still being felt here,” the communication stated.
“We hope you would be proud of the work we have done so far, and the work that we will continue to do for years to come.”
To the organization’s surprise, a response followed from overseas.
Signed by Monsignor Paolo Borgia — Vatican Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State — the letter thanked the tourism organization for reaching out and promised that “… His Holiness will remember you in his prayers, and he invokes upon you God’s blessings of joy and peace.”
Armed with that acknowledgement of its efforts, the VFTCB continues its efforts to fight hunger across the communities it shares.
Locals wanting to join the organization in this ambitious project can find out how online.