The pope's trip to Mexico was also the last one for Alberto Gasbarri, the organizer of the papal journeys always seen in the background during the Pope’s travels outside Italy.
He held the position of administrative director of Vatican Radio as well, and over 37 years during the little free time in between, organized the Pope’s journeys abroad.
February 12, 2016
"This is Mr. Gasbarri’s last journey with us. He’s worked at the Vatican for 47 years, and 37 of them on the (papal) journeys. I say this so that during these days we can offer him our gratitude and also have a small party for him here during the return flight."
After six intense days of work, the Pope wanted there to be this small official farewell and sharing with his traveling companions.
"Just a few words. I repeat what I have said earlier: Thank you very much! He has given me good advice. He has just one flaw: he needs to improve his calculations of the distances between places!".
"We’ve shared many difficult experiences: emergency landings, countries at war ... And I've never seen him annoyed, complain, upset, or rude. He’s truly a gentleman."
A few small gifts were given to him: an Alitalia model plane, a keychain and a collection of the best photos of him taken over his 37 years of working on the papal journeys.
"You could say that once in a while he did a photobombing of the historic moments – you would see the Pope, a president – and Alberto Gasbarri! We hope he likes the gift."
"Of course, I thank Pope Francis for his trust and patience. And I would like to share a story. In November we were in Africa in Bangui, and the Holy Father had to meet with the bishops, but I saw him going into the chapel where the bishops were not present. I said, "but Holy Father, you have a meeting with the bishops". And he answered: "I am going to the chapel to ask the Blessed Mother to give me the strength to be patient with Alberto Gasbarri!" ... Well, now I've freed him from that prayer intention!".
The person taking over the preparation of the papal journeys is Colombian Monsignor Mauricio Rueda whom the Pope presented to those travelling with him on this journey.