Claret School student Lance Torres decides to become a priest after seeing Pope Francis. Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBNNews.com
MANILA – Lance Torres was only one of the 24,000 delegates chosen to take part in the Encounter with the Youth with Pope Francis at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Sunday morning, but for him, seeing the pope was a sign to pursue his dreams of priesthood.
“Napaginipan ko na kakawayan ko ang Pope, so sabi ko sana magka-totoo,” the senior high school student from Claret School said.
In the throng of millions of people who came to see Pope Francis during his 5-day visit to the Philippines, those who got a chance to see the Pope felt blessed.
Pilgrims and youth delegates filled the streets of Espana as early as 3 a.m. and waited for the UST campus gates to open.
Yet, not all were granted entry due to the limited capacity of the area.
Torres and his group were able to enter the campus by 6:30 a.m., then later alighted at their designated area at the CEAP (Catholic Education Association of the Philippines) section of the campus field.
After hours of waiting, Torres said his initial reaction upon seeing the Pope was of awe, filling him with unbridled surge of happiness.
“Exactly 9:35 [a.m.], nag-ring na yung bell. Dumating na yung PSG, nagsigawan na… dalawang beses siya dumaan sa gitna,” he recalled.
“Dumaan siya mismo sa harapan ko, na-videohan ko siya. Malapit, as in ang lapit… sumigaw na lang ako nung nasa harapan ko na siya, 'Papa Francisco, bienvenido!’”
His desire to see the Pope was more than just to bring home something from the trip. He took the experience as a sign to further justify his dreams to become a priest.
“I'm lucky talaga… I was drived by the Holy Spirit to stay here [at] pumunta rito sa lugar na ito para masilayan siya.”
Lance Torres and other youth delegates from Claret School of Quezon City consider themselves lucky and blessed after seeing Pope Francis. Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBNNews.com
FEEL, KNOW, DO
Torres said that in a normal week, he is able to attend up to 20 masses.
He starts and ends his day by praying.
“Every week siguro nakaka-10 to 20 masses ako sa parish… and of course yung ugali ng family namin, always pray the rosary before going to bed, all together.”
Aside from being part of the student council in school, Torres also takes part in various parish activities.
He is currently training to become a liturgist.
Torres agrees with Pope Francis’ view that the youth play an important role in the church.
He said the youth can be a foundation for a more solid church.
“Naniniwala ang simbahan na ang kabataan may magagawa para sa simbahan. Na as early as this stage, they can start with the foundation, the building blocks… Saka innocent pa, inosente pa ang mga bata,” he said.
“We are called misnomers of our faith...we're just called Christians by name, not by action. So the church always reminds us to do good.”
Following the Pope Francis' homily to the youth, Torres said he was struck by the Pope's reminder “to feel, to know, and to do good.”
“There was this little girl na sabi niya, she questioned the Pope, 'why does God want us to suffer?' Oo nga, sabi ko, kasi merong minsan mga struggles and challenges na binibigay ang Diyos sa atin, bakit hinahayaan niya tayong mag-suffer.”
Torres continued, “Pero ang nag-struck talaga sa akin is 'yung three points ni Pope: To know, to feel, and to do.”
Pope Francis also discussed the dangers brought by information and technology. He said that in today’s world, the youth are swayed by easily attainable information and forget to act on the information they get.
Torres said he was rattled by this part of the sermon and made him question himself.
“Totoo nung sinabi niya yung message niya regarding doon sa mode of information and technology. 'Di ba tanong [kay Macolor] ng pope, sa iyong paraan...paano ka makakagawa ng magandang bagay?”
“He was challenged by the pope and I was also challenged by the pope in my own self… Now I am entering college, in my course, how can I contribute, how can I help other people in the church?”
It was then when he realized that it was the answer he was looking for all along.
“Ang wish ko [noon], kapag dumaan talaga sa harapan ko si Pope at na-videohan ko siya, I can say na totoong tinatawag Niya ko,” he said. “It is already the sign [that I must] continue my ministry.”