Pope Francis calls young priest with cancer in Chile

On Saturday, June 4, right around lunch time, Chilean priest Father Francisco Rencoret Mujica received an unexpected call.

Jun 12, 2016

SANTIAGO, CHILE: On Saturday, June 4, right around lunch time, Chilean priest Father Francisco Rencoret Mujica received an unexpected call.

The 35-year-old priest, who is suffering from metastasized lung cancer, received encouragement in the form of a surprise phone call from Pope Francis.

Fr. Rencoret, who was studying Canon Law at the Gregorian University in Rome, returned to Chile this year to treat his illness.

At first, his mother said, she thought the phone call was from a Spanish priest, Father Arturo, who called frequently to inquire about the state of her son’s health.

“Hello, Father Arturo,” she recalled saying.

“It's not Fr. Arturo, it's the Holy Father. Yes, it's His Holiness, it's the pope!”

Then his father, Gustavo joined the conversation. Quite moved, he said that they had a photograph of Pope Francis in their home.

Fr. Rencoret explained to CNA that the reason for the call was to “inquire about my health, to tell me that he was praying for me, to give me a lot of support, encouragement and the love of the Church.”

Among other topics of conversation, the diocesan priest recalled to the Pope that on the day that the 2015 Synod on the Family closed at the Vatican, he had given the Pope a portrait that he had made of the pontiff’s parents.

Before ending their conversation, the priest told the Holy Father that he is “offering some of my pains for his vocation, difficulties and sorrows” and that they were “very much in communion because God is in fact merciful.”

He described the phone call as “beautiful, surprising, moving.”

The contact between Pope Francis and Fr. Rencoret came about after the former extraordinary ambassador and plenipotentiary of Chile to the Holy See, Mónica Jiménez, asked the Pope to give the priest a call.

Fr. Rencoret lives in Santiago with his parents and is praying to Servant of God Pope John Paul I for “his healing and salvation.”

“He's been my friend since childhood. My dad had on his nightstand a book called Ilustrísimos Señores, and in the seminary I read his discourses while he was pope. I saw the film 'God's Smile' and I went to see him (where he is buried) when I came to Rome,” the priest recalled.

Fr. Rencoret is the fourth of five children. He graduated from law school in 2005 and that same year entered the Pontifical Seminary in Santiago de Chile.

He was ordained a priest on April 13, 2013 and has stayed connected with the Divine Word School, where he studied.

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