The Singaporean Opus Dei group poses for a photo in St Peter’s Square.

Attending a special congress in Rome was also an opportunity to celebrate Holy Week with Pope Francis for several young Singaporeans active with the Opus Dei.

A group of 18 Singaporean students, led by Opus Dei Fr Joe Lopez, attended the UNIV Congress, held in late March.

The congress, started by St Josemaria Escriva, founder of the Opus Dei, in 1968, is an annual international university congress that takes place in Rome during Holy Week. It is part of a workshop that includes activities such as an audience with the pope, international get-togethers, social projects and historical tours of Rome, according to the congress’ website.

The Singaporean group started Holy Week by attending Palm Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square.

In his homily, the pope encouraged youths not to let themselves be silenced, to keep shouting their “Hosannah!”

Msgr Fernando Ocariz, the prelate of Opus Dei, seconded Pope Francis’ concern during a meeting with the UNIV Congress participants. He stressed that no one should say “there is no vocation for me”. Rather, everyone has a vocation, which must be discerned not only intellectually but also as an act of love.

The Singaporean group also visited the ancient ruins of Rome and several churches, and prayed at the tombs of St John Paul II, St Josemaria and St Ignatius of Loyola.

Visiting seven churches on Maundy Thursday, the group started at the Church of St Agnes in Piazza Navona and finished at Trinita dei Monti, at the top of the Spanish steps.

Universality throughout the visit was demonstrated by the variety of the UNIV Congress participants, with the largest groups coming from Italy, Spain, Mexico and the US.