SOME Thomasians who had the opportunity to encounter with the Pope last year urged the Filipino youth to participate in the upcoming papal visit.

Charlene Versoza, a senior nursing student, had the chance to meet the Pontiff during the UNIV 2014, an international gathering of university students sponsored by the Institute for University Cooperation in Rome last April 2014. Versoza, along with Rosario Valencia, presented in the University of Holy Cross in Vatican a research paper about Cosmos: The Ecology of Man and His Environment.

While Leandro Tesorero, an AB Economics graduate, together with his colleague, Lynch Kristoffer Flores, went to Vatican last Oct. 8 to ask for the Pope’s blessing for the Work of the Saints Apostolate, a ministry composed of young lay faithful whose mission is to promote holiness through devotion to the saints and their relics.

“It was exciting and nerve-wracking as well. Questions like, ‘Am I worthy to meet the Pope? Am I worthy to touch him?’ came into my mind but I felt no judgment in his eyes,” Versoza said, who is also the Central Pax Romana president.

Tesorero said they were only given 30 seconds to talk with the Pope, however, the Pope stayed and exchanged dialogues with them for 10 minutes.

“When our turn came, I immediately recited the 30-second speech we have prepared in Italian, but to my surprise, he was still there when I finished,” Tesorero said. “I was able to show him the album documenting our activities and our version of a calendar with pictures of saints on each of their feast days.

Both Thomasians emphasized the role of the youth to the new evangelization and encouraged them to take part in the papal visit.

“We, young people, should know our right and our capabilities. We are the ones who have the energy to meet other people and to influence, guide and remind them,” Versoza said. “For me, knowing your faith is not enough. You should live it and so you can become a living witness of it and grow as a better Christian.”

Versoza also mentioned that we should fully prepare ourselves with a childlike-heart for the coming of the Pope.

“It’s not about his popularity, it’s not about getting a photograph with him, so that you will be famous, as well. He is visiting us to remind us that God is with us. Be childlike not childish. Be excited because you are sincere and genuine.”

Meanwhile, Tesorero wishes that the papal visit will become a driving force to become active in the Church and society.

“Life as a Christian is not an individual life, but to be involved with others. This papal visit should encourage everyone to listen to the word of God and the voice of God.”

‘Pope of the people’

One thing common about Versoza and Tesorero’s encounter with the Pope is that they felt the love radiating from the Pope.

“Even if he is a high one, he humbles himself to serve us, to meet us and touch our lives; not just to meet us but to be an example to everyone,” Versoza said. “He doesn’t have a commanding stature. He is the Pope but he is also our brother, father, friend and he will be there for us whatever happens.”

Tesorero also recalled the moment he met the Pope with passion and endearment. For him, having a personal encounter with the Pope felt like an embrace of God’s love.

“I realized that he truly loves us. He will not make you feel as if you are a stranger. He will give his attention to you. He will dedicate his time and he will definitely listen,” Tesorero said. “The way he talks is very down to earth and experiential. He is a pope of gestures because he’s really into action.” Jelina Anne S. Bunagan and Mone Virma Ginry P. Gumapac


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