.- World Youth Day volunteers who were selected to have lunch with Pope Benedict XVI on August 19 experienced a relaxed, communal and exciting atmosphere, sharing their thoughts and experiences.
“The Pope was very happy, (and) laughed with all of us. That is a side of him that I wish more people would know, because it is not well known,” said 33-year old Juan Carlos Piedra, from Ecuador, in an interview with CNA.
Piedra was one of twelve World Youth Day 2011 volunteers who got to share a meal with the Pope after his name was drawn from a pool of 30,000 others. The globally diverse group spoke English, Italian, French, Spanish and German over lunch at the Ambassadors Lounge of the Apostolic Nunciature, according to Piedra.
The conversation was very casual, and each of the selected youth told the Pope “our worries, desires and the people we represented,” Piedra explained.
“He transmitted serenity to us, because at first we did not know what to say, we did not know what to do while everyone arrived.”
Claire Brown, a 22-year old Australian, told CNA that having lunch with the Pope was “an amazing experience.”
For Brown, World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney was “an incredible experience that inspired many in Australia to grow in the Catholic faith.” This year, 4,000 Australians have come to Madrid, “the largest group of pilgrims from my country that there has ever been at World Youth Day.”
“The chance to be with the Holy Father and youth around is something I will never forget,” she said.