The young man who greeted Benedict when he visited England in 2010 is now a priest

Fr. Paschal Uche, was ordained last August 1st by the Bishop of Brentwood.

Fr Paschal Uche
Photo: Diocese of Brentwood

Newsroom (September 19, 2020, Gaudium Press) — He was just a boy, who on behalf of all young English people, delivered their greetings and homage to Pope Benedict.

It was September 18, 2010. The Pope offered the Eucharist in Westminster Cathedral, and after the mass, the greeting of Paschal Uche, 21 years old, would come. Before arriving at the church he was surprised by the number of young people who were heading there. There was joy in the air.

“I remember being there at the Mass and being surprised by the liturgy and everything that was happening,” Fr. Uche told EWTN’s Vatican program, on a special in memory of the German Pope’s visit to the UK,  10 years ago.

Someone tapped him on the shoulder: it was time

“And as I was praying after Holy Communion, just enjoying the wonder of being there that day, I was tapped on the shoulder and someone said, ‘It’s time to go out and welcome the Holy Father in the name of the young people’: the time had come. Before 2,500 young people, and with Benedict XVI just a few steps away, Paschal began his greeting.

” Pope John Paul II said that our faith is a noble and authentic adventure. And we really want other young people to experience this. We pray that his visit will inspire us to be saints, saints of the third millennium”. The crowd exploded in cheers and enthusiasm, so much so that it surprised the young representative himself. Benedict was smiling.

“Holy Father, for many of us, you were before today a mere face on television or an image in a church,” he said. “But today we see you face to face, and on behalf of the Catholic youth of this great nation I would like to express my deep and heartfelt gratitude for your visit. Thank you, and God bless you.”

After his words, the now-presbyter was taken to the Pope, who tapped him on the shoulder, shook his hand, and was able to exchange a few words.

Today, Fr. Uche tells us that he took advantage of those moments to confess to Benedict that he was thinking of becoming a priest. Pope Ratzinger told him that he was going to entrust this intention to the Blessed Virgin.

Today, a new priest for the Diocese of Brentwood

The path taken by Paschal Uche culminated on August 1 when Bishop Allan Williams of Brentwood, Essex, ordained him a priest of Christ.

After the ordination, Bishop Williams read a letter from the elderly Pope emeritus, who expressed his joy at the ordination that had just taken place and again entrusted Paschal Uche to the care of the Mother of God. If ordination is already the highlight of a priest’s life, it would be remembered even more intensively by Benedict’s letter.

Twice the future Fr. Uche had written to the Pope emeritus, telling him that he was going to be ordained, but no reply had come. It was only when his mother communicated the event to Benedict that the joyful reply arrived. “A bit like the miracle of the Wedding at Cana”, Fr. Uche remarked.

After the Mass in which he greeted the Pope, many Facebook messages arrived on Paschal Uche’s account, from boys who said they had been touched very specially in those moments: It was like a “moment of the Holy Spirit,” he said, thanking for the good fortune of having been “an instrument through which young Catholics expressed their sense of connection with the Pope.”

A connection that continues today.

“My friends and family were extremely proud. To this day, if someone comes to my house, there is a picture of the Holy Father and me climbing the stairs,” Fr. Uche relates.

The priest now begins another important stage in his journey to eternity. He has been assigned to the parish of St. James the Less and St. Helen in Colchester.

With information from CNA.

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