World Youth Day 1995, Manila: A Call To Conversion

By Issa Isaac

Two weeks before the World Youth Day in Manila, I was asked by Fr Armand Robleza of Don Bosco to be one of the emcees of the Youth Vigil with the Pope. I thought it was just another hosting assignment. I was not aware of the WYD and knew nothing about it.

I grew up in a Catholic family but never really took my faith to heart. I did not know who Pope John Paul II really was. I did not see Sunday Mass as an obligation. I never had any Religion, Theology, Christian Living or catechism classes. I was more of an agnostic than a Catholic.

All these however changed on the evening of 14 January 1995. As I cried out, ‘The Pope is here!’ upon seeing the Popemobile approaching the Quirino grandstand, I knew my life would never be the same again. As I led the multitude of young people in chanting ‘John Paul II, we love you!’, I knew it was no longer my own self at work. It was a different Spirit moving my being.

Nine hours on stage – singing, dancing, and praying with the jubilant crowd, I saw and experienced the love and concern of a great man. That night, for the first time, I saw Jesus Christ in the Holy Father. I felt that Pope John Pope Paul II came for me, to be with me, and to bless me.

That year’s WYD theme ‘As the father sent me so am I sending you’ gave me a mission. I opened my heart, received and followed the Pope’s message to ‘Tell the world His love’ and became a communicator of faith, hope and love.