RIO DE JANEIRO —– The young boy who told Pope Francis he wanted to be a priest and brought the Holy Father to tears during World Youth Day was greeted with cheers from his classmates when school resumed on July 30.
Brazil’s O Globo TV network reported that Nathan de Brito, 9, came into school in the city of Cabo Rio wearing his World Youth Day apparel and a cross, when his schoolmates broke into applause and gave him “a hero’s welcome.”
“Everyone already knew about his desire to be a priest and wanted to know about his encounter with the Pope and how he found the courage to get past the security guards,” the network reported.
His friends said they were excited to know that one of their own was very close to the Pope. De Brito’s family also said they feel “very blessed.”
“I need to learn a little bit of theology,” de Brito said with a smile, adding that he is ready for “everything” that the priestly vocation demands.
During the papal motorcade through Rio on July 26, de Brito broke through the security barrier and climbed onto the popemobile to greet Pope Francis. He expressed his desire to be a priest, and the Holy Father said he would pray for him.
“As of today, your vocation is set,” said Francis, moved to tears and embracing de Brito. The emotional encounter was captured on video by Brazilian media.
Keyla Fernandes, one of de Brito’s teachers, said the 9-year-old has excellent grades and behavior.
“His good behavior shows the Christian principles that have been rooted in him, such as obedience,” she said.
Father Valdir Mesquita, the pastor of the parish where de Brito attends Mass, said that de Brito’s encounter with the Pope “will inspire many others to want to be priests.”
Ever since de Brito reached age 5 or 6, “he was already saying he wanted to be a priest,” Father Mesquita said. “This encounter will certainly remain in his heart and will forever change his life.”