“It was an extraordinary experience to have the Pope among us. We were all in the boat with our flags, very happy to be living those moments.” These were the words Ryan Stichweh used to describe the boat ride he and 200 other young people shared with Pope Benedict XVI during the opening ceremonies of World Youth Day.
Tran Huuong Quyen, a Vientnamese youth, told the SIR news agency it was “very emotional” to be with the Pontiff, while Malaysian youths Eddy Dorairaja and Valerie Chen said being close to the Pope was very intense. “We were under the awning and we saw him up close. We said hello and we waved our flag, and he waved back. It was extraordinary.”
Yvette Necheine said she was very happy to be a part of the experience, which she called “a true privilege.” “Although I did not get to speak to him directly, because security was very tight, I saw him and I was surprised by his simplicity.”
For Canadian Sebastian LaCroix and Australian Wasan Sadik, who is of Iraqi origin, the experience was also unforgettable. “We read and sang hymns … We danced and waved our flags and scarfs to the young people awaiting the Pope,” they said.