UST Public Affairs Director Giovanna Fontanilla

THREE representatives of the Filipino youth will deliver their “testimonies” before Pope Francis during the papal encounter with the youth to be hosted by Asia’s only Pontifical university on Jan. 18, 2015.

In a press statement, Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., rector of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST), said the papal activities in UST would be “open to the public at designated areas in the campus.”

The UST football field and grandstand will however be allotted to youth representatives of diocesan and archdiocesan youth commissions, the Episcopal Commission on the Youth (ECY) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and the Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines (ACUP), and youth participants of the 2nd Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization (PCNE) that will also take place in UST on Jan. 15 to 17, 2015.

UST Public Affairs Director Giovanna Fontanilla said 24,000 young people were expected to fill up the University football field. “We allotted 24,000 for the youth, but we are expecting a lot more numbers from the public,” she said in a press briefing Monday (Dec. 22, 2014) at the Fr. George Willmann, S.J. Memorial Building of the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association in Intramuros, Manila.

Fontanilla clarified that no tickets would be sold or distributed for the Pope’s UST visit. The public can enter the UST campus in Sampaloc, Manila through designated gates.

There will be a pre-program for the youth as early as 6:30 in the morning, which will include the praying of the Holy Rosary and practicing of songs and cheers for the Pope.

When Pope Francis arrives at the UST Grandstand at around 10:30 in the morning, there will be an enthronement of the Holy Cross and a liturgical celebration that will include responsorial psalms and a gospel reading.

It will be followed by testimonies from three youth representatives: an out-of-school youth, a college student, and a typhoon “Yolanda” relief volunteer.

Afterward, Pope Francis will deliver a message to the young people. Seven young people will lead prayers and intercessions, which will be said in different dialects.

Pope Francis will also lead the Angelus to cap the event in UST.

Palace Undersecretary for Legislative, Policy, and Legal Affairs Jess Anthony Yu said the government would assist UST in security arrangements. The government is coordinating with the Pope’s security team, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police to ensure the Pope’s safety, he added.

UST student affairs head Evelyn Songco said more than 10,000 UST volunteers would be needed for crowd control and to form a “human barricade.”

This will be the fourth time for a pope to visit the 403-year-old university run by the Dominican Order (the Order of Preachers).

The last pontiff to visit the University was Pope St. John Paul II, on Jan. 13, 1995, as part of the 10th World Youth Day celebrations. St. John Paul II first visited UST on Feb. 18, 1981, when he came to Manila for the beatification of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.

Blessed Paul VI met the bishops of Asia in UST on Nov. 20, 1970.

Pope Francis’ predecessor, the now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, was unable to join UST’s Quadricentennial celebrations in 2011 but gave a video message highlighting the university’s role as the “oldest institution of higher learning in the Far East.” Arianne F. Merez


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