I had been doing a masters of economics the past year in Pamplona, Spain, so when WYD in Madrid came around, I could not pass on the opportunity to experience it for myself. Some friends had told me how memorable it was; indeed how incredible it has been with my being able to personally greet the Pope! It definitely was not something I expected when I signed up to be a volunteer, so when they told me I had been picked to be one of fifty people welcoming the pope, I was overjoyed. They explained later that their choice was because I had an «exotic» face. I was more inclined to believe it was due to divine providence. This thought was affirmed when, during the first rehearsal of the welcome ceremony, I was chosen to be part of a special group of five representing the five continents of the world, which would be very close to him as he walked from the Pope mobile to the Puerta de Alcalar. After countless rehearsals, the big moment finally drew near. As I stood at my position, I prayed hard that he could bear the heat, and reflected on what i would tell him if he stopped to talk to me. I decided that I would tell him I pray for him everyday. Unfortunately, my nervousness got the better of me. As he was approaching, his assistant asked me where I was from, and when I answered «Singapore», the Pope heard and exclaimed with gladness,»Singapore!» I took his outstreched hands, genuflected to kiss his ring, and stood up to say something. All that came out was «I’m so happy!» The Pope smiled and moved on. At a purely human level it was already a great priviledge to hold the hands of a world leader. At a spiritual level this incredible experience has increased my love for the Vicar of Christ, and given fresh impulse to my zeal for souls.

Gerard

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