MANILA, Philippines – Spiritual renewal is at the core of Pope Francis’ visit to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on January 18, the university’s public affairs director said.
“We always say that it would be an invitation for a renewal and deepening of our faith,” Associate Professor Giovanna Fontanilla, head of UST’s Office of Public Affairs, told Rappler.
In a general advisory issued Saturday, January 10, the university reiterated that the Argentine pontiff’s encounter with the youth at 10:30 am inside the UST campus is a public event.
There are no tickets for the event, the university further clarified.
The Pope’s UST visit, Fontanilla earlier said, gives the public a chance to “have a glimpse of the Holy Father.”
The head of the 1.2-billion-strong Catholic flock, however, will not celebrate mass in UST.
Instead, Francis will address a crowd of young people estimated to be at around 24,000 who will gather at the university’s football field and grandstand for the youth encounter.
Below are a few things you need to know if you plan to attend the event:
1) Closed roads, drop-off points
Vehicles will be unable to pass through the roads surrounding UST.
You can be dropped off in the following designated areas:
- Andalucia street corner Laon-Laan street
- España street corner Morayta street
- Lacson street corner Dimasalang street
- España boulevard corner Blumentritt street
The roads from Welcome Rotonda to Morayta street, which includes España boulevard (along which lies UST’s main entrance), from Dimasalang to Nagtahan Bridge, from Dapitan (Dapitan Sports Complex) to Lacson street, from Piy Margal to Dos Castillas street, and the stretch of P Noval from Dapitan street to España boulevard will be closed.
This is according to the guidelines set by the Presidential Security Group and the Philippine National Police, the university said.
2) Designated gates
UST gates will open at 4 am on January 18.
The public is given designated areas in the campus.
They can enter the university through UST gates 10 and 11, which are both along Dapitan street at the back entrance to the university.
The 24,000 delegates of the youth encounter can enter the university through gates 5 and 6, which are both along España boulevard near the UST football field.
Both entry points for the youth participants are at left side of the UST main entrance when facing the gate.
The youth delegates are from the Archdiocesan Commissions on the Youth, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on the Youth, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), member-schools of the Association of Catholic Universities of the Philippines, and the 2nd Philippine Conference on New Evangelization.
Members of the Thomasian community can pass through gates 1, 2, 3 and 14, which includes the rest of the gates along España boulevard and the sole entrance along Lacson street.
Meanwhile, UST gates 8, 9 and 12 are typically closed – even on a regular school day.
3) A thousand youth to camp out
Camping out near the venues for the Papal visit is disallowed, said National Capital Region Police Office Chief (NCRPO) and Task Group Manila command Police Director Carmelo Valmoria.
However, young people have expressed plans to camp out near the vicinity of UST even days before the university gates open on January 18.
In an earlier statement, the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) said a thousand youth and students plan to set up camp as early as January 14.
“The Filipino youth would like to show our support to Pope Francis, who in just a year of his papacy has greatly contributed to rousing the youth and inspiring us to serve the poor and the marginalized,” said SCMP spokesperson Einstein Recedes.
“Thousands of Filipino youth are now drawing strength from the Pope’s progressive views to continue serving their communities and fighting evil and oppression in society,” he added.
SCMP and other youth groups will unveil a huge tapestry depicting Francis’ role in the fight for the rights of the vulnerable to remind him of their support for the reigning pope.
A candle-lighting along with an ecumenical service in front of the UST main entrance will also be held.
Papal visits to UST
Before the 10:30 am youth encounter, Pope Francis will meet religious leaders at the university’s iconic Arch of the Centuries at 9:45 am.
Historic as the university itself, half of the arch came from the school’s original entrance in Intramuros when it was founded in 1611 as Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario.
Francis is the third pope to visit UST, which was conferred pontifical status by Pope Leo XIII in 1902.
Pope Paul VI visited UST on November 28, 1970, while Pope John Paul II visited twice on February 18, 1981 and January 13, 1995.
Francis has been vocal in highlighting compassion instead of legalism, which focuses on what he calls “small-minded rules,” in tackling pressing problems of the modern world.
Named TIME Person of the Year in 2013, Francis believes the church to be a field hospital where the first duty is to take care of the wounded. – With a report from Jane Bracher/Rappler.com