Last Saturday and Sunday Nicole and I stood up in our parish church to share our experiences in World Youth Day. We also put up a board with pictures which you can see in the slide show. We invited all to attend next WYD Rio 2013 aswell as the Flame concert in Wembley in March 2012. We hope this post will inspire others to do the same!
and this is what Nicole said:
Helooo, I just wanted to share with my experiences from World Youth Day.
I’ll be honest, before I went to WYD I didn’t really know what to expect. I had many expectations of what it would be like, for example, I knew I would get the chance to meet many new people from across the globe but I never expected to make such close bonds with them and to get to know them as well as I have. At first, I thought WYD would just be about going to 20 different masses a day and having to listen to priest after priest, but it turned out to be so much more. Instead, we had the chance to visit different parishes and share mass with them, and attend masses in football stadiums full of thousands of young people. One of the main events I enjoyed was the catechesis as they were the most inspiring. We got to listen to American nuns and hear religious stories that not only showed the depth of our religion but the power.
One story I remember well was about a lady who was staying in a convent with nuns. She had just had a child and was leaving the hospital in an elevator when she saw another woman crying. She asked the woman what was wrong and she explained that she’d just found out she was pregnant and how she wasn’t ready for children. The lady then said ‘having children is one of the most beautiful things in life and you will regret aborting it. This time next year I’ll see you here, you will have had a baby girl and you will have called her Mary Rose after me.’ The lady then left her. The following year when the lady was in the hospital she met the same woman in the elevator. She had had twins, two girls, one named Mary, one named Rose; she was overwhelmed with gratitude to the lady who had convinced her to keep her child. This story really moved me and I could tell from the atmosphere in the stadium that it had had the same effect on us all ; it’s amazing to see how one lady’s words can have changed another person’s life so much.
In the first week we had Days in the Dioceses, where we stayed in San-Sebastian, this was essentially the warm up for Madrid. Here we attended prayer vigils in cathedrals; we visited the birth place of St. Ignatius of Loyola and celebrated our religion through festivals with people from all over the world. The festivals in particular were breath taking; every country went on stage and performed their culture through song and dance. It was so inspiring as you could see how different all the cultures were, yet they were still able to unite through faith.
The second week we travelled to Madrid where we were welcomed with an open air mass with all the participating countries, there were people there from countries such as Australia, new Zealand and even china. I can’t even put into words how incredible the atmosphere was there; wherever you went there were floods of pilgrims in the streets all eager to meet and get to know you, even those from countries who struggled with our language; everyone was so friendly, it was actually amazing.
However, I would have to say the best part of World Youth Day had to be the mass with Pope Benedict, its estimated that 1.5 million pilgrims turned up at the airfield for the mass, it was so full that they had to start turning groups away! After hours of walking to get there, in temperatures around 40 degrees, pilgrims were still sociable and the atmosphere was still buzzing- despite the torrential thunderstorm we experienced during the welcoming papal mass. Maybe it was God’s way of trying to join in?!
Anyways I could go on all day telling you about World Youth Day, all I can say is it was a fantastic experience and if any of you are considering attending world youth day in Rio de Janeiro, 2013 I would encourage you to do so, to truly appreciate how good it is you have to go and experience it yourself.
If anyone wants to know anything else about Madrid then we are more than happy to tell you all about it, so feel free to come and talk to us
Finally I would like to thank you all once more for your generosity in making this experience possible for us.
and this is what Paula said:
Thank you Nicole. Instead of going through my pilgrim experience now, there is a print out that I will be handing after mass which Fr Giles has named World Youth Day ‘Report’.
Now, I would like to tell you about two upcoming events, which I think will be important for the young people of the parish to attend.
The first event is called Flame, and will be similar to the Hyde Park Vigil that we had when Pope Benedict visited the UK last year, to include great Catholic ministry such as national and international speakers, music and dancing as well as time for worship and prayer.
This will happen at Wembley Arena on Saturday 24th March 2012, and it will be a great opportunity for us all to experience the Church in a national context. Furthermore, if you are thinking about going to a WYD this is a great way to get a bit of the flavor of what it would be like to attend one.
So everyone who is in Year 10 and above is invited, but I would especially make a call for anyone who is between 18-40, as I will personally lead a group to the event but will need extra young leaders to help out with the journey to and from London.
For more information, there are posters around the church or you can visit the website. There will be also a list at the back of church so you can put your name down. Any questions pls feel free to ask me.
The second event is, of course, the next World Youth Day, which was announced at the final mass in Madrid and will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July 2013. The theme has already been announced: Go out and make disciples (Mt 28:19).
WYD Madrid was one the the best weeks of my life and I promise you that I am not exaggerating. There were so many incredible experiences that if I had to tell you, I would not know where to begin.
However, if I had to say one thing, I would say that WYD is still – and I say still because I am still going through it in my head and in my heart – a hugely important experience which has strengthened my faith and has re-affirmed that the Catholic Church is alive, active and that it is indeed all of us. For this I am very happy that I attended and I feel very proud to be a catholic.
So following the huge success and amazing experience that was Madrid, I can’t help but invite all of you aged 16 or over to come to Rio.
And please let me tell you that age is not an obstacle. As you can see from the photos at the back, in our group we had a varied range of ages from 16 to 60, we had families, siblings, newly married couples, seminarians, older and younger priests, everything, WYD is really an inclusive event.
If you are interested do come and talk to me or Nicole for more details.
Once again, thank you all for all your support and for listening.