My generation has now seen two Pontiffs | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022






People born in the late 1970s and ’80s grew up knowing only one Pontiff, now Saint John Paul II (JPII). I remember the time he visited the Philippines for World Youth Day in 1995.


Six months short of turning 15, I didn’t qualify to join as a youth delegate. But that didn’t stop me from watching the TV coverage of his visit, and waiting on the road along the papal route.


He was idolized like a rock star.


In a convention hall with youth delegates, TV cameras caught the Pope warmly welcoming each youth delegate for two hours with hugs as they shed joyful tears.


In another instance, the Pope was seen twirling his cane while the people sang “Tell the World of His Love” at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park.


Spiritual high


JPII’s visit gave the country a spiritual high. There was sadness in his eyes as he looked back for the last time before boarding the plane for the journey back to Rome.


I felt that such a historic event would never happen again. I thought younger generations would never get to see another pope like him when he passed away in 2005.


But God has surprised us with Pope Francis—which makes my generation blessed to have encountered another popular Pontiff who visited the country last week. Though older, wiser and with careers and families, my generation still has its youthful spirit.


Some things haven’t changed—the warmth, excitement and enthusiasm we felt during JPII’s visit were likewise there at all of Pope Francis’ appearances.


Big yes


But with the many distractions today’s youth face, the question is, have spirituality, faith, and a figurehead such as the Pope made a difference in our lives?


I believe the answer is a big yes, because Pope Francis has his own way of making things so doable and easy to relate to, like his advice on how to become a better person and a Christian.


“His actions were simple, but they gave a sincere and warm message to everybody,” said Carl Laurel, a student from De La Salle Dasmariñas. “Just listening to him was enough to make me appreciate every little thing in life. He displayed optimism, and it reminded each of us to have a change of heart.”


Pope Francis dispenses words of wisdom without sounding like he’s preaching; which is why, after every papal speech, Facebook and Twitter are flooded with his quotable quotes.


His being so human is what gives him his own rock star status.




“Beyond his radiant smile and overwhelming humility, his preaching of God’s simple command of loving more and loving unconditionally is what really gets to you,” Francis del Rosario said.


That is why waiting for hours just to catch a glimpse of him for a few seconds was something a lot of people did with no complaints.


“I woke up at 6 a.m. to go to Manila for his Mass (at Luneta),” said Patricia Eustaquio, a student from De La Salle University. Her family found a nice spot in front of Manila Bay and stayed there under the rain from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., even if they saw the Pope for less than five minutes.


“Despite the challenges we had to go through, the experience was definitely worth it. I’m very blessed to have seen such a holy man in my lifetime. His presence honestly inspires me to be a better person,” added Patricia.


Social media


Back in 1995, there was no social media, and the Internet was still in its infancy. Today’s youth has all the conveniences of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through which they can express their thoughts and opinions on faith and spiritual matters.


It’s so quick and easy to post photos of people being moved by the papal Mass in Tacloban or uploading a five-second clip of the papal convoy.


We all saw people smiling on their selfies while waiting or walking for hours, drenched in the rain, just to have a glimpse of Pope Francis.


“You, sir, have revived my faith in and relationship with God. Thank you, Pope Francis, for making this country united in the presence of Jesus,” Asia Coronel posted online.


When we were kids we found comfort knowing we had someone like John Paul II at a time when there were not many figures we could look up to.


The younger generation now has Pope Francis, whose sincerity is felt even when he talks in Spanish we don’t understand.


Though he has returned to Rome and we have gone back to our normal lives, here’s hoping we have become a little wiser and better in the four days that Pope Francis was here.


I remember what a former colleague, Aaron Almadro, posted on his Facebook page. He lost both his parents when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck in Tacloban; he said, “Thank you, Pope Francis, for giving me back my faith.”



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