Malvern Prep students reflect on visit to see pope in Armenia

MALVERN, Pa. (WPVI) -- The rising seniors at Malvern Preparatory School returned Sunday from meeting with the pope in Armenia.

The students were met with cheers room their family and friends, a warm welcome back home.

Clark, a cancer survivor diagnosed with leukemia when he was 3, had the surprise of his life, when he was invited to kiss the pope's ring.

"That was just amazing to be able to get face to face with him and be able to look him in the eye, and then be able to kiss his ring," said Clark. "I became speechless after that."

Christian Services Director Larry Legner didn't go see the pope when he was in Philadelphia because of the crowds.

"There I was as close to him as I am to you," said Legner. "It was just moving, so moving for all of us, to have boys walk away in tears."

The trip is part of the Malvern Prep Christian Services program, that serves those in need across the globe. The trip took the boys to Armenia for two weeks, where they volunteered at a summer camp for 212 orphans and underprivileged kids.

"Meeting the kids and seeing the lives that they have and what they have and what they've been through was truly a humbling experience for all of us," said Jadon Diehl, rising senior.

While Diehl says his work with the kids was his most memorable moment, he also had the opportunity to hold hands with the pope.

"It felt like Jesus, like touching him," said Diehl. "Honestly it was like something you would never think would happen."

The students were working with underprivileged children ages 7-15.

"It was really eye-opening for me. These kids don't have much, but they always have a smile on their face. They're always just so happy," said Clark.

They count their smiles, and later the tears, as what was truly unforgettable.

"Sobbing on our part to have to leave these children," said Legner.

The mission trips are a requirement for all juniors going into their senior year at Malvern Prep. They span the globe from Peru to the Philippines and Costa Rica, serving disadvantaged children in third-world and devastated areas.
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