April 13, 2016 — A Winnipeg boy was selected to meet Pope Francis after his question was chosen to be published in a new children's book written by the pope.
"My number one question was, 'What did God do before the world was made?'" said Ryan K., a student at St. Ignatius School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Published by Loyola Press, “Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World” is a collection of Pope Francis' personal responses to 30 questions from kids, his first children’s book. Students at various Jesuit schools around the world were asked, "If you could ask Pope Francis one question, what would it be?"
Ryan, who is in grade 4, had his question selected to be part of the book. St. Ignatius is the only Jesuit elementary school in Manitoba and Ryan is the only Canadian child to be part of the book.
"I've been wondering this question most of my life," said Ryan. "Not many people can answer that question. People have their own ways of answering it, and different answers, and I think the best answer would be from the pope."
The pope's answer, in short: "Before doing anything else God was love, and God was loving."
"Not only was [Ryan's] letter chosen, but it inspired the tagline of the book, 'Small children ask big questions,'" said Jeannine Pistawka, principal at St. Ignatius School.
A staff member of Loyola Press called her in December to tell her the impact Ryan's question had on the pope.
"It was really exciting to think that one of our students, [didn't just get] chosen but inspired the tagline, and the pope was really thinking about his question," said Pistawka.
Ryan's father, Sam, said he knew his son was curious and asks a lot of questions, but was surprised to hear that he was thinking so deeply.
"He's asked really big questions, and it's really touched me inside," said Sam.
Ryan said he was very nervous to meet the pope, but when Ryan presented him a gift of maple syrup, the pope laughed and said "this is good."
Ryan also gave him a book on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and a St. Ignatius School shirt.
When asked what it was like to meet the pope, Ryan said, "He's like a light in the dark. ... He's just so kind."