Twelve hours on a boat to tell Pope Francis ‘I love you’

Dolorosa and Joay traveled on a 12-hour boat trip from their home province in the Philippines to Manila, where they hope to see “the image of Jesus” — Pope Francis — and tell him that they love him.
“We want to see the pope, the image of Jesus. I’m so happy now, because I see in Pope Francis the image of Jesus…I can’t explain my emotions. I’m so happy,” Dolorosa told CNA Jan. 15.
The siblings — who were on their way to line up so they could greet the pope on his route into the city — said that if they had the opportunity to tell him something they would only say one very simple thing: “I love you.”
Dolorosa and her brother made their way by ship from their home province of Aklan to Manila in order to participate in the events surrounding Pope Francis’ Jan. 15-19 visit to the Philippines. The pontiff is slated to visit the island of Tacloban, which has been ravaged by two typhoons in the last year.
With the theme “Mercy and Compassion,” the Pope’s trip to the Philippines falls just after a two day visit to Sri Lanka, during which he encouraged locals to work for peace and reconciliation, and voiced his opposition to using religion as a “weapon of war.”
“For us we are very, very excited that the face of Christ will come here to the Philippines,” Joay told CNA, explaining that the Philippines has always been a popular place for popes to visit because “most all Filipinos are religious and Catholic.”
“We are also special, because he chose this country (and) the Pope always visits here. So we are very happy.”
Dolorosa was also present for the visit of St. John Paul II to the Philippines for World Youth Day in 1995. To have seen him, she said, is exciting, “because (he) is already a saint.”
The most prominent message she remembers from the saint’s visit is one of renewal, she said, as well as his desire to bring people closer to God. “So it’s a privilege for me that I saw John Paul II, who is already a saint. And I love Pope Francis so much.”
Also serving as a lector at her home parish in Aklan, Dolorosa said that she attends Mass everyday, always going to the first one, which begins at 5: a.m.
She expressed her desire to spread Pope Francis’ message to her hometown once she goes back, saying that “I will bring the visit of the Pope to my province and say that he is compassionate (and) loving…I see Jesus if I see the face of the pope.”
“I am so happy because the image of the pope is Christ.”

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