Papal Visit to the University of St Thomas Aquinas, Manila

Pope Francis at UST

January 18, 2015, España Blvd., Manila – Tens of thousands of people gathered around the University of Santo Tomas for the much anticipated Papal Visit. Lines began to form at the various gates of UST on the night of January 17 with families camping out wherever they could.

An early morning Mass was held at six in the morning presided by Br. Rolando dela Rosa, OP, since Pope Francis would not celebrate Mass at the University. The excitement continued to grow and was undaunted by the rainy weather as the time for the Pope’s arrival drew near.

Around 9:30 in the morning, the crowds around UST erupted in cheers as they caught sight of the Pope mobile. Upon his arrival at the University, Pope Francis first made an iconic passage through the Arch of the Centuries and signed in the University’s guestbook. He then rode around the campus, cheerfully waving to everyone who had braved the crowds and the weather to have a glimpse of Christ’s Vicar on earth.

Everything grew quiet however once the program started. Four youths (two students and two from the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation) Jun Chura, Leandro Santos II, Rikki Q. Macolor, and Glyzelle Palomar each shared their messages and questions for Pope Francis.

It was a memorable event when Glyzelle, a twelve-year old former street child, broke down into tears after asking the question, “Why does God allow children to suffer?” The crowd was all ears as Pope Francis gave his response with Glyzelle’s question getting a silent hug of sympathy as response.

Pope Francis set aside his prepared speech to be able to respond from the heart. He urged the youth not to be afraid of crying, that crying allows a person to view things in a different perspective. In response to today’s technology and ease of information, he used the metaphor of a museum as something which the youth must avoid. He gave the youth a very powerful message namely that one must Think Well, Feel Well, and Do Well.

Towards the end of his speech, Pope Francis told the crowd to learn how to beg in order to grow in their commitment to help others. It was a memorable message for all those gathered at UST and everyone strove to get a last glimpse of the Pope as he departed for Luneta for his afternoon Mass there.

Viva il Papa!

By Br. Jose Laureano de Jesus, OP


(12 February 2015)