They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but one photo opp left three young adults from Sioux Falls speechless. Brother and sister Helen and Paul Conzemius and Katelyn Gill are members of Up With People. The international musical group just performed in the Vatican.
Standing on the steps of St. Peter's Square, entertaining thousands, they were part of history. However, catching Pope Francis' attention, the day after his birthday, is the moment they will talk about for years to come.
"While he was walking by us, we decided to sing Happy Birthday to him," Gill said, "So, we sang Happy Birthday and he stopped and he listened."
Seizing a once in a lifetime encounter, the Up with People members asked the Pope to strike a pose.
"It was very surreal. After it happened, we're like, 'Did we - did we really just take a picture with the Pope?'" Gill said.
"I just kind of froze for a minute and I was like, what next?" Paul said.
In his six years of traveling abroad with Up With People, Paul has met individuals from all walks of life. Though this experience stands out, he says it is still in line with what he has learned about the power of human connection.
"There's all these differences, but when you get down to it, you sit down at a dinner table, the customs and practices are different, but the themes are human and they're the same and it's really, really, it's amazing," Paul said.
"You could just feel, like, the joy. It was really nice and I liked it," Helen said.
In the future, Helen looks forward to telling her children about this little piece of history.
"You see his picture and you're just like, 'Oh yeah, that's the Pope,' and then you see him for real and you're like, 'Wow! Yup, that's the Pope. That's man of the year. That's him right there,'" Helen said.
Up With People will make an appearance in Sioux Falls on March 9 and will perform at the O'Gorman High School Performing Arts Center. Find information about the performance online or call (605) 988-3765.