URGENT MESSAGE FROM EAST ANGLIA WYD GROUP: Two places available in our group due to two people cancelling. However, we have to confirm names with the airline by the end of this week, so time is of the essence! We leave on July 15th and return on July 31st. We are a spending Mission week in Caxias do Sul before flying onto Rio for the WYD week and with less than four weeks before we leave, we are getting very excited! Anyone interested in joining us, please email Hamish, the group leader on firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
Here is a recording by Paschal Uche in the Edward Stourton’s BBC program this morning.
He is around minute 5.27. I hope it brings you good memories.
Suddenly, my time at World Youth Day has drawn to a close. A week of my teenage life, spent in a country I hadn’t been to before, with food I hadn’t eaten before, and people I hadn’t met before, and yet it was the most enjoyable experience I ever had. I will remember it forever – the memories, the experiences, and the strengthening of my faith.
We (myself and my 20 year old brother) were greeted with quite a shock after flying out from a damp and dreary Gatwick on the morning of Monday 15th August, to high-30s heat reflecting off the runway at Madrid airport. Heading through the airport, it was apparent that we were about to take part in something huge. There were banners and posters up everywhere advertising ‘JMJ2011’ (JMJ are the initials of the Spanish for ‘World Youth Day’), but these were hidden from view by the hundreds of pilgrims picking up their luggage from the carousels. There were Brazilians, Americans, Canadians, Chileans, French and many others. I had never seen such a diverse mix of people, and we hadn’t even made it out of the airport terminal.
After travelling on the metro filled with excited Brazilians for half an hour, we arrived at our destination. We alighted and, after consulting my printed road map, we arrived at our accommodation, and found our room. Deciding to then walk into Madrid at 3pm was a mistake, as the temperature had reached about 38 degrees. We swiftly concluded the best course of action was to sleep under a tree in a large park in the centre of Madrid.
Meeting up with the rest of our 130-strong group of young people from the Portsmouth Diocese that evening, we went out to get dinner. Despite the fact there are hundreds and hundreds of cafes and restaurants in Madrid, we ended up in Burger King. One positive outcome of this was the pint of ice cold Coca Cola for 1 euro.
On Tuesday, our group travelled back to the park in the centre of Madrid, and met many hundreds of other pilgrims. There were various stands and marquees in which different groups of people from across the world, for example nuns and missionaries, were talking about their lives and other things. That evening our group travelled to the centre of Madrid, to watch the opening celebration hosted by the Holy Father. We ended up sitting on a large roundabout (the traffic in the city centre had mostly been stopped), and watched the celebration on a large screen. The heat in the large crowds was immense, reaching up to 40 degrees. Several ambulances were constantly passing, picking up people suffering from the heat.
The next morning, Wednesday, we travelled to a 12,000 seat arena for the first of three catechesis sessions we would be having during our time in Madrid. It was preceded by a Catholic rock concert, in which everyone sang along to the songs. The speeches in the catechesis session were extremely enlightening, as well as moving. Throughout the morning, there were priests dotted around the stairways of the stadium, to which people could go for confession. There was also an area in the basement of the stadium which had been converted to provide an area for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. After the catechesis session came a mass, concelebrated by the hundreds of priests that had come from all over the world. That afternoon we had free time in Madrid, and we returned to the arena (again!) for another Catholic concert.
Thursday began with another catechesis session in the arena. The talks again were very interesting, and it was, once again, followed by a mass. That afternoon we travelled to the site outside Madrid’s town hall where all the pilgrims would be welcoming the Pope again. There was a party atmosphere, with people of all nations dancing and talking to each other. We sat waiting for about four hours, and when the Pope arrived the pilgrims erupted shouting chants. The Holy Father hosted a small celebration, and then left back to his accommodation. As we were walking out, we came up to a closed road with a few people lining it. People started running, and we realised the Popemobile was just seconds away. We ran to the road, and saw the Pope pass just a few feet in front of us.
On Friday we had the last of our catechesis sessions. It involved talks about love and relationships, and then we had our final mass in the arena. Myself and a press officer from our group then travelled towards the area of Madrid where the Stations of the Cross were being displayed. They were dotted along a major road, and finished at the Town Hall, where the Pope would, once again, be presiding. We managed to get just a couple of rows back from the very front, and were within 40 metres of the stage. As a pilgrim, the time spent waiting for events to start is as enjoyable and exciting as the event itself. This wait was no different. Despite language barriers, we managed to say evening prayers with two Swiss ladies, an Italian priest and a nun from the Democratic Republic of Congo – the prayers were in a mixture of Italian, English and Latin. As the Way of the Cross neared the Town Hall, the Pope said a few prayers and gave a Homily, regarding the hardships that young people across the world face, and telling us not to give up hope.
Saturday was the eve of the World Youth Day itself. After having a small mass in our accommodation, we began our journey to Cuatro Vientos (Four Winds), an airfield on the outskirts of Madrid. We travelled by metro and then had an hour walk, all the time being joined by hundreds and thousands more pilgrims. It was at least 42 degrees, and there were people on their balconies throwing water onto us all to cool us down. By the time we reached the airfield there were literally hundreds of thousands of people heading through security. We arrived at our designated area and set up ‘camp’, as that was where we were staying for the next 24 hours. The heat was reaching unbearable levels, and as we were on an airfield there was no shade apart from umbrellas and other sun protection that we had brought with us. There were at least four fire engines driving round spraying water over the hot pilgrims. Like on Tuesday, ambulances were constantly travelling around with their sirens blaring, picking up people severely suffering from the heat.
As evening drew near, clouds started gathering. At first these were a blessing, as they provided shade, and thousands of people cheered when they covered the sun. However, it soon became apparent that a storm was brewing. The Pope arrived and began his welcoming celebration, but in the distance we could see thunder and lightning. As the Pope began his homily, the heavens opened. The winds also picked up and blew his skullcap off. The Pope had to retire to an area behind the stage while the storm raged. People were sheltering under plastic sheeting that had been used earlier in the day for shade. Everyone’s sleeping bags and other things were soaked through. However, after ten minutes or so, as suddenly as the rains had started, they stopped. Thanks to the constant heat, even during the night, everyone dried off quickly. The Pope came back out and finished his Homily, and then explained how he would return to his accommodation that night, and celebrate mass with us in the morning. Throughout the night, there were areas around the airfield where people could worship the Blessed Sacrament, and groups of people were walking round singing and dancing all night. I had heard that so many people had tried to come to the airfield that they had had to turn many people away due to capacity issues – there was in excess of 1.8 million people at the airfield.
The morning of the actual World Youth Day, Sunday, we awoke to a clear blue sky. The Pope returned at about 9 o’clock, and mass followed. In it he explained how he had not stopped thinking about us all night, and he was truly grateful for us all coming to Madrid. After mass, another speech followed, and during this he announced the venue of the next World Youth Day: Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil, in the summer of 2013. Following this, all the pilgrims began filtering out of the airfield, and we began our 26 hour coach journey back to Reading. This was a perfect time to reflect on the week’s events – as well as catch up on sleep!
I would strongly recommend all young people to participate in World Youth Day. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and, despite what major news networks would lead you to believe, we saw no protestors. All the Spanish people were very welcoming, and the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world were very friendly. It was a remarkable journey in faith united with so many others from around the world, and we are grateful to the people of St Francis Parish for making it possible for us to experience it.
We all agree the English language is somehow peculiar both in the written as well as the spoken word. I canstill remember one of my English friends who’s mother is from the US telling me: tomatoes and tomaytoes, potatos and potatoes (you know what I mean!) as a classic example of English as a non-phonetic language.
How about using different words for the same thing? Fingers and thumbs (a thumb is a finger), jam and marmalade (marmalade is a particular flavour of jam). What about different names for the same things in different quantities: tooth and teeth… But keys can’t be keyses! Or the same word for different things! Such as polish and Polish or turkey and Turkey.
After 16 years living in this country, I’ve just learnt the hard way that Youth does not mean ‘Juventud‘. When I spoke to my parish priest and said I wanted to go to World Youth Day, various members of my parish took the time to tell me: are you going to World Youth Day?… but you are not a youth? (but I am not old either! – I wanted to say)
This terminology in the English language was kind of stuck in my head since last year until I actually went to WYD two weeks ago (I needed to see the evidence you see…) and finally I have the courage to come out of the closet and say: Are we British “lost in translation” with this language?
Jornada Mundial de la ‘Juventud’ or World Youth Day as it is better known in English, refers to the term ‘Juventud‘. This in the vast majority of countries outside the UK, is the age group starting at 18. Under 18′s are officially considered to be children. The big change comes at 18 when people leave school and start university, driving, voting and legal drinking. When you can do all these, that’s when you start being young or ‘joven‘.
And so it seems to me that in England, this is a problematic terminology at many levels, not only becuase it makes our children grow far too fast, but because in Church terms, the congregation have, as a result of the language, a huge mental barrier. This is what I personally experienced in my parish whilst trying to invite people to come to WYD last year after the papal visit: many young people already considered themselves too old to attend even when their age fell into the 18-35 bracket!
Surely, this is not good for the Church. If anybody over 18 is not considered ‘juventud‘ instantly we have an ageing Church population. Furthermore, there is always talk about the hope that the youth or ‘juventud‘ will take on the Church and bring new breath, but being truthful and honest, is it fair to put the future of the Church in the hands of under 18′s who are really still children?
After the Papal Visit and WYD Madrid, many of us have experienced a more youthful church – una iglesia mas joven – maybe the Church we would like it to be and the Church where many of us feel we belong. We have come and gone to Madrid but at least in my parish, there was missing exactly that age bracket between 18-35 and therefore as a consequence, we will miss out on the opportunity of having young people fresh out from WYD. This age bracket is tremendously important for the church because in my experience these are more willing to commit to parish life, as their faith is usually just a little bit more mature than those who are under 18.
Therefore, I plead! The run up to Rio de Janeiro should be taken seriously across all English Parishes and the point made that such an event is not confined only for the ‘youth’ but to all those who are willing to contribute, especially the 18-35 years old. Also, please remember, those pre-WYD events bring so much life to parishes whatever they are: from youth Masses to fundraising events, the important thing is that young people feel and become part of the parish.
So as the English Church is getting ready to change the whole translation of the Mass, maybe the opportunity should also be taken to change this ‘youth’ term in order to represent us all. I thoroughly refuse to be called ‘Young adult’ (it sounds ambiguous as ‘little adult’) but on the other hand I am not old yet… I am who I am! Young! Youth! Joven! …but I am not 15….
Who are the Voluntarios? Voluntario is the Spanish word for Volunteers in World Youth Day Madrid. These were thousands of young Spanish people, to be exact 30,000 of them, who were helping out in the smooth running of the event. They were everywhere with their fluorescent t-shirts, impossible to miss.
Every time there was an issue or a question, the easiest people to approach were the Voluntarios, who were always happy to help and had a big smile on their faces. Their jobs where varied, sometimes they were answering queries, sometimes distributing media passes and at other times, Voluntarios were making a circular human chain, like the one to protect national monuments such as the Puerta de Alcalá (this is the monument the Pope crossed with some young people on his arrival). I remember on this occasion saying to one of the Voluntarios: ‘you don’t need the police to guard Spain, because Spain has the Voluntarios!’
Above all, it was a real testimony of life to see these young Spaniards so involved in JMJ (WYD). They were really proud hosts of the event.
Here is an interview I conducted with one of them. The Audio is in Spanish, but below there is an English translation.
P: Hello How are you?
V: Very well and you?
P: Good Thanks. It’s been a great coincidence that we have bumped into each other so many times and I want to know you a little more. What is your name?
P: Jesus, what a beautiful name! What does it mean to be a volunteer?
V: Well, it’s about helping the Church because the Church has helped me a lot, so well… Jesus is also there… He said to us that we can find Him in others….
P: So how has it been for you?
V: Very good, Very good. At the moment we have worked a lot and in the meantime we are waiting for Cuatro Vientos which is going to be the event where the Voluntarios will be able to enjoy more than in the Vigil but anyway, the working atmosphere is very good and at the end, despite any difficulties, everyone is happy and that is important.
P: When did you hear about this? And when did you put your name down for it?
V: Well, the first meeting which I attended was in December 2009. Then I put my name down and we were in communication via internet and then I attended the first proper meeting in December last year.
P: So you were in contact direclty with WYD not via the parish?
V: No, it was directly with WYD
P: Did you put your name down with friends or was it your own decision?
V: At the beginning I was on my own and afterwards, I started to meet people in the parish who put their name down.
P: Well Jesus, I would like to tell you that as a pilgrim it is an honour to be in Madrid, especially as I am originally from Chile but coming from England. it is fantastic that this is in Spain, that everything is beautiful and that the presence of the Voluntarios is very noticeable and that you are giving a great witness of Christ. It’s very beautiful, thank you.
V: Thank you very much to you all as well. For coming and all the effort that this entails.
P: Thank you. Goodbye
V: See you soon.
The following day, after the Via Crucis, I bumped into Jesus for the last time. He was blocking one of the roads adjacent to Plaza de Cibeles, with hundreds of other Voluntarios. That morning, I had put in my rucksack a Portsmouth T-shirt of the Papal Visit – just in case I met Jesus again. When I saw him, I said a had something for him, and so I handed him the T-shirt and told him it was from the Papal visit to UK, he said: ‘thank you very much, I actually followed the whole visit on TV’… suddenly a shout… he had to go, he was being called by one of his colleagues. We embraced and said goodbye.
P: It’s the 19th August and I am with Steven Wood, if you remember, this is the pilgrim leader that I interviewed some time ago in our final meeting that we had as a group before traveling to Madrid. (see post 27 July)
I am catching up with him, we have both been to the vocation fair separately becuase we have been very busy with our groups! When we talked during the last interview, Stephen you did not know much about what the new movements of the Church were about, so did you get more information at the vocation fair? What did you make of them?
S: I was very excited to find out about a movement that wants to promote and spread the teachings of Louis de Montfort, a theology which I have just come across and I am seeking to understand more deeply…
P: Have you been able, by visiting the vocation fair, to get more of a comprehensive insight of what the young movements of the Church are?
S: Well, to be quite honest, I visited a few congregations/ movements personally but I don’t really know the history behind them.
P: Oh, that’s OK, I can tell you a little bit about them. Basically and what I understand from what I’ve read is that since the Vatican council in the 1960s, the church elevated lay people to the same level as consecrated people by means of our baptism. This means that by baptism we share a responsibility to proclaim the Lord. So as a result of this, from the 60′s there have been new movements growing. These have lay and consecrated members or sometimes only lay. And so some of the movements we saw at the vocations fair, were born after the Council. So… I think this is a pretty big thing for the Church because you are getting lay people fully and truly involved in the church.
S: Last night, I spent the evening with the Emmanuel community, is that one of those movements?
P: Sure it is…
S: That’s great!
P: What did you do?
S: I had some time with the Blessed Sacrament and they had the relics of St Margaret Mary and then for a while I went outside to the square where they were singing and evangelizing and singing songs and I joined them because I knew some of the songs that they were singing.
P: There are so many movements in the Church that it is difficult to keep track of them. One of the things I wanted to tell you about the movements is that when you are a member of one of them, it is a great way of deepening your faith, you still go to mass, you still go to your parish but for me it is a bit like carrying out my faith everyday of the week, because they have a certain spirituality and a certain way of praying.
S: So each of the particular groups have different charisms and if I was to feel that one of the movements capture the faith… it will help me to live my spiritual life.
P: Yes, that’s right. And when you meet a movement, it’s not as if you are taking life membership, at least my experience is that you get involved in the measure that you feel called to be committed with them. For example at the beginning of the week, I met a couple who are in formation to be consecrated to this movement I participate in called Verbum Dei. This is great news for lay people and married couples everywhere because it is a wonderful way to live a Christian life to the full.
S: I find the Catholic life offered by parishes themselves adequate. I am involved in a group for young people after mass and that goes on within the existing frame work of the parish… I have to wait and see if there is a movement that I can slot into that or get involved with. I would be interested to find other Catholics to join in order to deepen my prayer life during the week as well as on Sundays.
P: Yes, that’s the thing about the movements, is that you meet people that you can pray with, maybe during the week and one other thing about these movements in England is that not a lot of people are aware of them… They are very popular in France and Spain.. I thought that given that you are newly Catholic, English and in WYD where we’ve had the vocation fair, this would be a good opportunity to talk about these movements.
S: I managed to talk about vocations to someone I met in one of the stalls from the UK, maybe it will be good to have more time to go to all the individual stalls…
P: Oh yes, there are so many of them! I visited the Carmelites and the monk was giving me leaflets about being a monk and a nun but when I mentioned that I was married, he handed me another leaflet from their married branch, and that was very nice because I felt there is a wholeness and unity and a real sense of family that involves everybody as a Catholic, whether you are married, single, priest, nun or monk. And always whenever I have experienced a movement either from within or as a visitor the feeling is great.
S: Pretty good
P: Yes you can really see that God is there and the Holy Spirit too.