‘I couldn’t help crying the first time I saw the Pope’ – priest

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JARO, Iloilo, Oct. 2, 2014 — A month after seeing the Holy Father in Korea, a priest delegate to the recent Asian Youth Day (AYD) still is not over his Pope Francis experience.

“I couldn’t help crying the first time I saw the Pope in person. I was so thankful that I was there – seeing and listening to the Vicar of Christ. For me, that was a tremendous grace!” shared Fr. Nathaniel Gentizon, director of the Jaro Parish Youth Ministry

Seeing Pope Francis

The priest, who went to South Korea with Elaine Grace Capalla, a youth minister from the Vicariate of St. Peter of the Archdiocese of Jaro, said that “it’s not the same when you meet the Pope in person from watching him only on television.”

Awed by the event, the priest shared the effects of the presence of the Holy Father on him and on the other delegates as a way to inspire his fellow Filipinos to prepare well for the papal visit to the country in January 2015.

The youth ministry director, who, together with Capalla, was recommended by Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo and Archdiocesan Youth Commission Director Fr. Rafael Luis Clavel to be the Archdiocesan delegates of Iloilo to the 6th AYD in Daejeon, South Korea, noted how well the Church in Korea organized the event.

Haemi, South Korea – August 17, 2014: Preparations take place at Haemi Castle before the closing Mass of the 6th Asian Youth Day with Pope Francis on Aug. 17, 2014. (Photo: CNA)

“Organizing a papal visit and making it very orderly and meaningful is tough work, but the Koreans just did it! Everything was great because of their love, prayer, cooperation and unity,” Gentizon stressed.

Hard work, dedication

Foremost in the priest’s observations was the “hard work” and “dedication” of the people involved in the AYD.

Gentizon said, “The Koreans’ best was manifest not only in their capacity to systematically organize a big event or in their wonderful performances during the festival that amazed many of us. Their best was shown in the generosity, especially among the young people.”

The priest delegate saw how well-trained and well-prepared the volunteers were in their conduct all throughout the papal visit, saying, “From the Days in the Diocese on August 10-12 up to the Asian Youth Day Proper on August 13-17, the volunteers treated us with magnanimity even when they were already exhausted. There was never a time when they spoke rude or harsh words. Instead, they were always smiling and ready to listen, accommodate, and respond to the needs of every person at any moment.”

The Asian Youth Day (AYD) is a weeklong event organized by the Youth Desk of the Office of the Laity and Family of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC). It brings together Catholic youth from all over Asia for fellowship and spiritual growth. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas)

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