Hi, My name is Paula and together with Jo-Anne, I am helping to organise the UKPilgrims group to World Youth Day Rio2013.
I am also working as an International Volunteer for Rio2013, helping with the day to day running of the official twitter account @wyd_en, with other 2 international volunteers – one of them is from the North of England and the other one from the USA. I have been involved in doing this job more or less since September last year and it entails twitting for this account on a 24/7 basis. One of the things I love most about this work is the opportunity to belong to a truly international team, being in contact with pilgrims from all over the world and reflecting on the daily Gospel readings.
Having the opportunity to do this volunteering work is amazing, I love my Catholic faith and since I went to Madrid in 2011, my life has been transformed and revitalised. Madrid has given me confidence in my faith and the gift to live life to the full in real time.
During my time in Madrid I acted as a Communications Officer for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. This meant blogging my Madrid experience on the ukpilgrims.com website, tweeting and posting on Facebook. Apart from getting access to the media centre and press passes to some of the press boxes – which was awesome – it was also a great opportunity to absorb the WYD experience at a deeper level. By writing about all the different happenings after a WYD day, it gave me the opportunity to review every detail of what had happened during those extraordinary days.
It was during this time that I met Jo-Anne and James, and we decided this event was too amazing to keep to ourselves; we had to do something and so the idea was born for a WYD book. We gathered testimonies from different pilgrims that we met along the way and asked for their stories. Finally last month we released the book – World Youth Day: Inspiring Generations in two different versions: an ebook full version available worldwide through Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Youth-Day-Generations-ebook/dp/B00C0GBAMY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370900484&sr=8-1&keywords=inspiring+generations) and a CTS booklet with a shorter selection of testimonies (http://www.ctsbooks.org/world-youth-day-inspiring-generations). Not one testimony is the same as another – we all go to WYD together but we all have different journeys of faith.
It may sound crazy but one of the reasons why I am volunteering to organise the UKPilgrim Communications Officers group is because of a particular occurrence in Madrid when a friend – John – and I made our way to the Way of the Cross via the Parque del Retiro. We had a Union Jack flag with us and along our journey we were stopped several times by individuals or groups of pilgrims who wanted to chat with us. It was then that I realised that UK pilgrims have so much to give to the universal life of the Church and no matter how small or insignificant the number of UK pilgrims when compared to other nations, it is still an essential part of the body of Christ – and his Church. In other words World Youth Day would not be complete without pilgrims from the UK.
Last year, I spent some time visiting different events for young Catholics in the UK. It is clear to me that this country has great potential in its hands – the young Catholics in this country have a deep faith rooted in Christ. My job as a coordinator for UK pilgrims is to serve these young people so they can experience World Youth Day to the full. Jo and I are both using our experience in Madrid to make the most of Rio for UK pilgrims. We hope that we can give them the confidence to get out there: tweet, Facebook and blog so others may know UK pilgrims are going to attend World Youth Day and that they will make this experience their own.
World Youth Day in Rio2013 from 23rd-28th July.
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Twitter: @ukpilgrims and