A year ago, this historical visit of the Pope to the UK changed my life quite dramatically.
Indeed 2010 had been quite a rubbish year for me: in the 8.8 earthquake in Chile I saw my home country in a state of emergency, including the anxiety of not knowing for a few hours whether my family and friends were dead or alive. A couple of months later, due to the economic crisis in this country, I faced redundancy and then came the trapped Chilean miners! I really felt that my life was moving…
However in September, as the Pope’s visit became a historical event for this country, for me this would mean a dream coming true and a change of direction in my life.
You see, when JP2 visited Chile I was 10 years old and I remember so clearly that I could only sit in front of the box as my parents deemed I was too young to be taken to the acts. This negation in 1987 became joyful enthusiasm in 2010 and so when Fr G announced that tickets were up for grabs in Church, I did not hesitate to sign up straight away.
So I attended the Hyde Park Vigil and Cofton Park Mass but I followed much of the visit from start to finish via the internet. It was right at the beginning with the Mass in Scotland that I realised that I was witnessing a once in a lifetime event.
As I followed the Papal visit on screen, what I enjoyed most was the atmosphere that was formed by the people in the events and also by the content of what the Pope said to all of us which I can only describe as spiritual food.
The meeting between the Pope and the young people outside Westminster Cathedral really touched my heart when he said: ‘after all, we were made for love.’
Also, I will never forget being part of the Hyde Park Vigil: the people, the atmosphere, the music were completely out of this world. The testimonies before the actual Vigil started were tremendously moving as well as the silence during adoration… and of course those very important words pronounced by the Pope himself: ‘come to Madrid for World Youth Day’.
Three hours sleep later, I was in a bus heading to Cofton Park with my parish. We had a dark drizzly start but as soon as the Pope arrived the clouds opened and the sun started to shine . During the bus trip and waiting times, the Holy Spirit was stirring my heart and I truly felt that He was telling me: tell the young people in your parish about Madrid… come to Madrid.
And so in the bus back, Adelene and I cooked up a plan which would consist of talking in the following mass about our experiences during the papal visit and invite all to come to WYD and, on the way, try to start up a group for young people in our parish. Throughout the year this materialised in fundraising events for WYD in the parish, Youff mass every month and a lectio group with some of them at home.
Hard work and enthusiastic determination of proclaiming God and the young Church experienced in Hyde Park; these encapsulate for me this past year which of course had a high – very high – point during World Youth Day in Madrid. Planted and build up in Christ, firm in the faith indeed and a truly amazing, inspirational and spiritually gifted year of my life.