Wyatt Olivas, who is 19 years old and studies at the University of Wyoming, asked Pope Francis to sign a letter excusing him from classes in order to rest after work at the Synod.
After four intensive weeks at the Synod, the idea of going straight back to the classroom, right after a 13-hour flight from Rome to Denver, was a bit daunting.
It was too much even for a young man like Wyatt Olivas, the American student who, at 19 years of age, was the youngest participant in the Synod on Synodality.
The young man, a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, a missionary at the Catholic youth programme Totus Tuus, and a catechist in his home diocese of Cheyenne, will leave Rome on Monday, 30 October.
He was supposed to show up in class, which is a three-hour drive away, potentially with snow on the road, as early as Tuesday morning.
Half-jokingly, Wyatt decided to draft a letter explaining to his professors that he needed to recover from his work at the Vatican before resuming classes.
Who better to have it signed by than the ‘President’ of the whole assembly? With a smile, the Pope agreed to sign it, writing “Francis” in his tiny handwriting.
“Wyatt,” the letter reads, “has pinky promised to return to his classes and complete his work, and we trust that he will keep his word. We are confident that, after this much-needed break, he will return to his studies with renewed energy and focus. Therefore, we kindly request that he be excused from his classes for a short period.”
This Synod, Wyatt told journalists at a briefing in the Holy See Press Office on 18 October, has given him a new perspective.
“It’s been an amazing experience to truly be listened to and hear these different perspectives from all around the world. I think it’s just amazing that I get to see these other sides. So it’s very exciting to be here.”
Exciting, of course, but also demanding, so much so that a break was needed before returning to the classroom. And, in this case, he has the Pope’s blessing.