When Pope Francis arrived in Brazil in 2013, he said he saw a pontiff “very close to us.”
“When he was elected pope, my love for the Church and for my vocation grew, because he was someone close to us. It’s not that Benedict XVI wasn’t,” he said, but his perception was that “Benedict XVI was the pope who lived in the Vatican and was distant.”
Then came the opportunity to be close to the pope with Francis’ visit to Brazil for WYD Rio 2013. At that time, de Brito was living in Cabo Frio. He and his mother went to Aparecida, where the pope was present on July 24. But they didn’t manage to see him up close.
They then traveled to Rio de Janeiro, where de Brito managed to get to Pope Francis on July 26. “And this [matter of] being a priest is so important to me that when I met the pope, I didn’t even tell him my name. I don’t know how he knew my name, but I didn’t say it. I just said, ‘Holy Father, I want to be a priest, I want to be like you,’” de Brito recalled.
“At that moment of meeting the pope, I could feel God’s enormous affection for me, saying, ‘My son, I love you,’ in the arms of the one who welcomes us like a father. I had this very great experience of being welcomed by the pope and that he received what I told him. He simply told me: ‘Pray for me and I will pray for you,’” he said.
“Of course, we have the obligation to care for our vocation. But knowing that a person so special prays for us is something very special.”
In early 2020, de Brito joined the Order of Friars Minor as an aspirant. He was a member of the congregation until the end of last year, when he asked to be transferred to the seminary of the Archdiocese of Campo Grande.
“It’s my duty as a person called to the priesthood to keep that flame burning, if that is God’s will. But those sparks that help us maintain our vocation, like the meeting with Pope Francis, are always very pleasant, very happy to remember,” he concluded.
This story was first published by ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by ACI Prensa/CNA.