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Local Business Man Pilgrimaging To Cuba Has Gift For Pope

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Even if he only sees the pope from afar, Tom Abraham didn't want to miss the opportunity of lending his voice and support to the welcoming message of Francis to Cuba and witnessing his journey to the nation's capital.

Abraham met with CBS4's Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen who asked him about his perception of the pope.

"Revolutionary. He's shaking up the ship as they say. He's walking across water where nobody believed he would walk. So he's really gotten everyone's attention," Abraham replied.

What impact might this trip have?

"I think what he's doing is historically important. It allows us to grab back to our roots to who we are, as humans, human beings, appreciating the real value of what love means, what brotherhood means, what kindness means, what compassion means, " says Abraham who adds with a smile, "Oh, he's the real deal, there's no doubt about it."

If there is one message from the pope that touched his heart?

"For all of us to figure out how each and every one of us can matter to this world today. How do we make a difference?" he told Gillen in his Anthony R. Abraham Foundation office in Coral Gables amid photos of his family and most prominently displayed, his father.

Abraham comes from a family lineage of making a difference in the lives of others.

Tom Abraham is the son of humanitarian and American success story Anthony Abraham.

Anthony Abraham and his wife Genovese plucked Tom and his sister Norma Jean from an orphanage in Lebanon. They gave them a new life in America where faith and connection to the church was an integral part of growing up.

"I always felt that I was being watched over, and that I was blessed and that I was given opportunities that other children weren't given. And so because of that I always felt I had an obligation to do a little bit more than normal," shares Abraham.

He has traveled the world shining light on the needs of refugees today. He says the persecution of the innocent is much on his mind, particularly Christians he says, and why he sees the Pope's voice as a lifesaving instrument for the world.

"Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East, and all they're doing is talking about it. The churches should stand up, all churches. All religions, this is genocide that is happening.

"I'm hoping that he speaks very strongly to the world, international community. It's time to stop this carnage, this chaos."

"If I had my way about it, I would like to see sitting at Congress the heads of every religious leadership of the world I would love to see them all sitting in Congress while the pope was speaking," added Abraham.

Abraham has long viewed art as a tool to bridge religion, hope, peace and change. He has commissioned an artwork by internationally esteemed Lebanese painter Mouna Sehaoui, who has long captured the suffering of war and the path beyond it.

He met Sehaoui in Beirut after visiting refugee camps and he envisioned a gift for the pope – one that on behalf of the Lebanese people would embody the path and promise of peace.

Abraham gave CBS4 an exclusive first look at a work destined for the eyes of a pope whose prayers he believes the world needs.

"The doves and the symbols of the different religions floating in beautiful colors, that when you reflected on it you reflected on the peacefulness and unity of how mankind can actually come together and reflect together on the essence of life," he said.

Abraham  told the artist, "I would love to be able to present to the pope something from the Lebanese community that would bring light to the essence of what's happening in the Middle East so that he could look at this painting and reflect and pray upon bringing peace to the Middle East."

Abraham is making change in the footsteps of a father.

Does he ever feel his father is still just over his shoulder?

"Oh he's definitely there," says Abraham with a warm smile.

Would his dad love this Pope?"

"Oh, I think he would really enjoy this pope. Cause my father was not pretentious, he was a very powerful guy, he became powerful because of his success, but he never let his success outshine his humbleness and his love for faith, for family and his love for country."

Like his father, Tom Abraham is a member of the branch of the Catholic Church called the Maronite Church. They are Roman Catholics but masses are said in Aramaic, the original language of Christ. His father was a huge supporter of the Marionetes, particularly in America.

His son, headed to welcome the pope, supporting his path and promise, feeling a deep connection to the church and family.

For a last question Gillen asked, "If you had three minutes alone with him or in a zone with him, where he was actually listening to you, if you had those three minutes with this Pope, what would you say to him?"

"What would I say to the pope if I had three minutes? I would probably want to ask him if we were to reflect and walk back in time together, how would he see the vision of Christ. If he was showcasing Christ to me, and say brother, this is Christ walking on this Earth, how would we both learn to understand what Christ was saying," reflecting he added, "I'd ask him a lot of questions."


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