‘During the welcome I had this idea that I would look over at him and say g’day, but I was so nervous I forgot to even look at him.
‘My second chance came when I was one of 12 chosen to receive salt from the Pope at the end of the vigil when we had to go and receive a block of salt from him and be sent forth with it.
‘Again I didn’t even look at him.’
Adam said his third meeting with the Pope was when he received Communion from him.
‘I thought this time I am going to have a really good look and I stood there and just looked at his eyes but they told me to move on and then the Pope laid his finger in my hand and said ‘you eat’ so I moved on.’
Adam said it wasn’t that the Holy Father was aloof, just that his own mind went numb when in his presence.
‘I had read a lot of his books and encyclicals and had always wanted to one day meet him but when I did it was mind numbing.
‘I had only ever seen a man who desired to engage quite sincerely with every person in the crowd.’
Adam said whenever he had been to a World Youth Day event the Pope had given the overwhelming impression that he truly wanted to meet each and every person, personally and get to know them.
Adam said after failing to find his tongue during the three personal meetings in 2002, he was determined if he ever got another chance he would speak to him.
That chance came in 2003 when Adam again represented Oceania for a debriefing on World Youth Day 2002.
‘There were 150 of us representing 75 countries and he welcomed each of us in our own language.
‘I got to take the gifts up to him on Palm Sunday and I couldn’t believe I had been asked to meet him again.
‘I had this question I wanted to ask him and I had practised it for several days beforehand.
‘Two of us went up. I was the representative for Oceania and the other guy, Thomas, was from Germany.’
The Holy Father spoke to Thomas first and asked him a question in his own language before turning to Adam.
‘I handed over the gifts and said very quickly, ÔHoly Father what do you have to say to the young people of Australia’.
‘Just then the music swelled and I could see his lips moving but I couldn’t hear a thing. It wasn’t the type of situation where you could lean over and say excuse me I didn’t hear that.’
Adam said he had always felt loved by the Pope and was saddened by his passing.
‘This guy was the only Pope I’ve ever known and his whole pontificate was marked by his call to ‘be not afraid’.
‘That’s what got to me. Whoever you are, whatever you are, trust that the God who is love is with you.
‘His willingness to meet you where you were at, to engage you and to call you to pray with him and be with him, that real sense of love, is one of the reasons I’m saddened by his death.’
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