Pope Francis has sent a pair of Ontario high school students a personal message intended to be used in a province wide mass at Catholic schools May 7.
Last fall, Madeline Ellepola, of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, and Michael Pallotto, York Catholic District School Board sent a letter to the Vatican requesting the Pontiff's personal message to the Catholic students of Ontario.
Both are student trustees, representing the interests of students throughout Ontario's publicly funded Catholic schools, and consulted with peers before making the request.
Pope Francis responded through Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Canadian Cardinal Thomas Collins.
"His Holiness Pope Francis sends warm greetings to you, your brothers Bishops, the priests, staff and students as you celebrate the Eucharist simultaneously across the province during Catholic Education week," the letter reads, in part. "He assures you of his spiritual closeness in this great act of praise and worship in God."
Nearly 600,000 students in Ontario's Catholic schools will celebrate mass together May 7.
"I have been hoping every day that we get a response - not so much for me, but for our students," said Ellepola, who attends Brennan Catholic high school in Windsor. "It's the most amazing feeling, tat the Pope read our letters and heard us calling out."
Pope Francis also sent rosaries.
"This takes your breath away," Ellepola said. "To think that he's aware of our initiative and us, as a student body, is amazing and leaves us in further awe.
"He is such a people's pope and [is] reaching out to people and students everywhere."