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Look back in wonder

A young Indonesian Catholic recalls his encounter with Pope Francis in Korea

  • William Turpijn, Jakarta
  • Asia
  • September 4, 2014
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I was so nervous when I met Pope Francis for lunch on Friday August 15 in Daejeon. It was like a dream. Though the pope spent only about two hours with us, I think it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.


Together with 15 other Asian Youth Day delegates from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Timor Leste, Mongolia, Nepal and Vietnam, we all felt so close to someone we love and adore so much.


No wonder some of us got rather hysterical when Pope Francis walked into the room to meet us.


“Papa! Papa!” we shouted, when we saw Pope Francis arrive at the major seminary in Daejeon. He smiled and greeted everyone.
When Pope Francis got closer to us, we even shouted louder. “Papa! Papa!”


Finally Pope Francis came into the room. I was full of joy. I was the first person who shook hands with him.
He then made the Sign of the Cross and led us a prayer before the lunch.


Pope Francis is really awesome. He pays attention to everyone. When I slowly came closer to him and kneeled beside him, he accepted me.

I gave him a chasuble and stole made of traditional weaving cloth from Flores in East Nusa Tenggara.
This chasuble and stole has an ornament of “The True Vine” (John 15), which is the symbol of the Indonesian delegation to the 2014 Asian Youth Day.

I also gave him a replica of the Karol Wojtyla building from the rector of the Catholic University of Atma Jaya in Jakarta as well as a book with special messages written by Indonesian youth and some young friends from Brazil.


I asked Holy Father to pray for this group of Indonesian and Brazilian youth that is preparing themselves for the 2016 World Youth Day in Poland. Holy Father then put his hands on a photo inside the book, closed his eyes and prayed. How sweet he is!


Pope Francis also responded to our requests full of love. Many of us asked him to come to our own countries. If someone was talking, he looked at him or her with a look full of love.


I don’t know how to thank God for my experience. Wonderful. I felt so overwhelmed. I was often moved and even cried, and I didn’t want that moment to be over.


Thank you so much, Papa Francesco!


William Turpijn is executive secretary to the rector of Atma Jaya Catholic University in Jakarta and a delegate to the Asian Youth Day 2014 in Seoul.

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