Twice lucky: Young Pole spends time with Pope Francis

Andrej Witas, 26, with his father, Tadeusz, holds the rosary he received from Pope Francis July 28 when they both rode a tram through Krakow, Poland, to the welcoming ceremony for World Youth Day. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

Andrej Witas, 26, with his father, Tadeusz, holds the rosary he received from Pope Francis July 28 when they both rode a tram through Krakow, Poland, to the welcoming ceremony for World Youth Day. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

By Dennis Sadowski

KRAKOW, Poland — For the second day in a row, Andrej Witas got to spend some time with Pope Francis at World Youth Day.

Witas, 26, sat in his wheelchair with his father in a special section for people with disabilities to the left of the stage at the Way of the Cross in Blonia Park July 29. The previous day, he joined Pope Francis on his tram ride through the city. He was selected to by Klika, a Catholic organization sponsored by the Dominican order for people with disabilities their family members and friends.

Pope Francis greets a young man while riding a tram to reach the World Youth Day welcoming ceremony with young people in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 28. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, pool)

Pope Francis greets a young man while riding a tram to reach the World Youth Day welcoming ceremony with young people in Blonia Park in Krakow, Poland, July 28. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, pool)

“It was a spirited experience,” Witas told Catholic News Service.

“I will never forget it,” he said, beaming.

Witas’ father, Tadeusz, pulled a brown leather-like pouch from his pocket. Inside was a rosary, a gift from Pope Francis.

Tadeusz Witas said Pope Francis was the second pope his son had met. In 2008, he met Pope Benedict XVI in Rome as part of a program organized by a local foundation.

The Witas family planned to see the pope one more time: at Field of Mercy July 30 as the overnight vigil for World Youth Day pilgrims gets underway.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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