Pope Francis is known for his humility, but a group of Filipino priests still could not believe what he would do to them: “a gesture of a real father”.
The priests were about to leave a room inside the Apostolic Palace to give way for the pope’s meeting with the Philippine bishops on May 20, 2019, until he waved and called them back, according to CBCP News.
Fr. Kali Pietre Llamado of the Manila archdiocese said it was a very formal setting and for the pope to call them casually was something they did not expect.
“Pope Francis suddenly gathered us and said, ‘Thank you for accompanying the bishops here. I will talk to them now. I know you are always praying for me,” Llamado quoted the pope as saying.
“Then he waved his hand to us and sweetly said ‘Bye Bye!’ What a loving gesture from a real father to us,” he said.
The priests, about 30 of them, accompanied the bishops from Metro Manila and northern Luzon, who were on their ad limina visits to Rome.
Among them were Fr. Marvin Mejia, secretary general of the Philippine bishops’ conference, the others are bishops’ secretaries, and priests studying in Rome.
Fr. Llamado, who is also the Vice-Rector of the Manila Cathedral, said their experience was astounding and inspirational.
“It’s just amazing that instead of just dismissing us, he (Pope) talked to us personally,” he said. “It’s like saying that he valued our presence there.”
The ad limina visits of Filipino bishops are scheduled for three different groups and each group has at least a week in Rome.
After the Luzon group, next to go will be bishops from the Bicol region and the Visayas and then prelates from Mindanao and those from the ecclesiastical province of Lipa.
This is the first ad limina visit for the Filipino bishops under Francis’ papacy. The last one was made in 2011 during the time of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.