Pope Francis arrives at UST for youth encounter
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Pope Francis arrived at Asia’s oldest pontifical university on Sunday morning, January 18, to deliver his message to the Philippine youth.
The papal convoy left the Apostolic Nunciature at 9:15 am on Sunday, January 18 – slightly earlier than his scheduled 9:30 am departure time – and arrived at the UST grounds 10 minutes later.
Before the youth encounter, the Pope had a brief meet and greet with 10 religious leaders at the university's Arch of the Centuries.
He boarded the popemobile for a tour of the campus, and waved to the people who had waited for him before daybreak – some even the day before – on the way to the football field for the main event.
A beaming Francis kissed some children and babies who were held up to him by Vatican security, and tirelessly blessed and greeted the cheering crowd.
Francis reached the university’s football field and grandstand half an hour ahead of schedule, to address an estimated 24,000 youth delegates. Thousands began massing outside the university gates on the eve of the papal visit to see and hear the Argentinian pontiff.
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.
During the youth encounter, several young Filipinos shared their testimonies in the presence of the Pope, and asked him questions that represent their concerns, among them, 12-year-old Glyzelle Palomar, who broke down after she asked the Holy Father why prostitution exists.
Palomar is a street child exposed to all sorts of problems such as drugs and prostitution.
Setting aside his prepared speech, Francis delivered his message to the Filipino youth based on the testimonies he had heard, saying, "The reality that you all have is superior to the paper (speech) in front of me."
This was followed by prayers and intercessions to be given by 7 youth delegates from different parts of the country.
University officials expect the papal encounter to spark “spiritual renewal” among young Filipinos, many of whom look up to Francis as a role model. (READ: PH youth follow footsteps of the ‘modern’ Pope Francis)
The papal event at UST ended around noontime, as scheduled.
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, and Pope John Paul II on both times he was in Manila – February 18, 1981, and January 13, 1995.
Francis is on the fourth day of his 5-day Philippine visit anchored on the theme, “mercy and compassion." – Rappler.com