This is WORLD YOUTH DAY: INSPIRING GENERATIONS Book Feature
A sample of the book can be found on Amazon
OUR OWN BRITISH BAND, OOBERFUSE SINGING THE OFFICIAL WORLD YOUTH DAY SONG IN ENGLISH. GREAT FOOTAGE FROM LONDON AND RIO DE JANEIRO.
On Monday morning I looked at my iPhone and saw a message which read: ‘Have you seen the news? The Pope has resigned!’
In a split second I thought: not another one of those pranks! However I looked again, as the sender was a close friend of mine who simply would not do such a thing. At that very moment my phone rang – another friend confirming the breaking news. Immediately I got back onto my phone and flicked through my twitter account… everything I could read in my timeline was saying Pope Benedict has resigned, Pope Benedict has resigned, Pope Benedict has resigned.
My first reaction was of shock and utter disbelief.
Why is he resigning? Can he do this? These were pressing questions…Where do I begin? Looking back I understand my ignorance of Canon Law did not help but to be honest, this is probably something Catholics are not taught about in great detail at school. Also, I have only experienced two Pontificates and JP2 stayed in office until the end, so naturally my first expectation was that the job of a Pope is until death.
As the day unfolded, I came to understand the resignation of a Pope is not only part of Canon Law but also a norm promulgated by Pope JP2 in 1996 recognising that a vacancy to the office of the Bishop of Rome, i.e. the Pope, can occur as a result of death or a valid resignation. This at least put that matter to rest.
Many other questions were asked but soon my mood changed to thinking about the Pope’s amazing Pontificate of just 8 years. Many have called him a transitional Pope and even he has described himself as a small Pope, but the truth is that for those who remember the Papal visit to the UK in 2010, he is no small or transitional Pope, on the contrary, he is more like THE ROCK. Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK was a very important moment for Catholics in the UK, especially for the young people of the church.
Particularly for me, Hyde Park was a turning point. I remember vividly when the Pope said: ‘The Lord be with you’ and we all exploded: ‘and also with you’. Yes indeed, we were saying the words we say every single Sunday but *to the Pope*. If this was really what being ‘in communion’ felt like, then communion was indeed very good.
Later during the Homily, listening to his words I remember thinking that this was something special: his words resonated as being so immensely profound, relevant and clear. It was like opening a little window in the corner of my life and letting in a flood of light as in his words there was so much teaching. It truly was an experience of enlightenment which awakened my desire to get closer to God and to learn more about my faith and my church.
Towards the end of the Vigil the Pope invited us to attend World Youth Day in Madrid, an invitation accepted by myself and some 3000 other British pilgrims. This was an unprecedented numbers of young British people attending a World Youth Day event.
We left London in the middle of the riots and arrived in Madrid’s scorching summer heat where we joined 2 million others. Pope Benedict was again impeccable with his words, his teaching, wisdom and a gentleness like a loving father. I will never forget the storm and lightning we shared in the Vigil at Cuatro Vientos, which was a near biblical experience. Pope Benedict stayed put with us, like a German Shepherd, and we all got soaking wet.
B16 has undoubtedly been a tremendous gift to young people in the UK. His visit to our country and later WYD Madrid has restored the confidence in our faith. He has taught us to be true to our values amidst the increasing secularisation around us. He has always encouraged us to experience Jesus Christ like a friend through prayer but also through service to others. He has shown us the direction of how to live our faith and now, as he leaves his pontificate and reverts to being Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he shows a great testimony of humility and an example of detachment from earthly titles, teaching us that the role of a Pope is not the role of a king but that of a servant.
Coincidentally, I was thinking recently how different could Rio2013 be to Madrid2011 since it is only one World Youth Day after the other? Well now we know it will be a very different event with nothing less than a new Pope.
We will dearly miss Pope Benedict in Rio de Janeiro but we trust in the decision that he has taken.
Now we eagerly look forward to Rio2013 celebrations with a new Pope. World Youth Day Rio2013 will probably be his first international trip and – with over 2 million attendees – also the biggest.
Yes, all eyes will definitely be on Rio2013.
Where would I be without World Youth Day? I’m not sure I want to go too far down that road. But I think I can say without doubt that my first World Youth Day in Rome in 2000 was the start of something in my life: fanning into flame a faith that had lain smouldering (but not extinguished) through my adolescence.
Rome 2000 allowed me to see what a truly Catholic faith was all about. It was about seeing the millions of young people from all around the world, each with their own language and culture gathering together in one city and for one purpose. I returned home invigorated.
It was not long after that I applied to go to Seminary and through my journey to Priesthood World Youth Days played a big part in my discernment.
And now I get to lead a Pilgrimage! And not just any Pilgrimage, but a Pilgrim journey to Rio!!
As the Director of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of Liverpool I will have the great privilege of taking 30 young people from all corners of the Diocese to Rio this year.
We started our preparation meetings in October last year and will continue to have regular meetings until the July departure date. In these meetings we hope to explore the great gifts WYD can bring to us – seeing the visible expression of a shared Catholic faith, experiencing a different culture, engaging in the Missionary Week, attending catechesis sessions led by different Bishops of the world, and of course being able to participate in the WYD Vigil and Mass celebrated by the Holy Father.
We will also work in smaller groups based more on local geography to discuss what we hope WYD will mean for us and how we hope to bring the WYD spirit back to our own parishes and pastoral areas.
We decided to start our preparation meetings in October as in late September myself and a fellow priest from Liverpool, Fr Colin Fealey, went to Rio for a pre- pilgrimage trip (travelling via Atlanta, Orlando and Panama – quite the trip!). Whilst in Rio we met the reps from the tour company we will be using and also met the leaders of the Birmingham contingent.
It was a great few days and really whetted the appetite for what is sure to be a fantastic expression of faith in July.
We found Rio to be a very relaxed and easy going city. Of course, the sights are spectacular. Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Copacabana. Strolling along the Copacabana in a morning drinking coconut milk takes some beating. Even the one hour homily at the cathedral at Sunday mass did not take the shine off those few days!
We returned full of enthusiasm for a great city and a fantastic people. To imagine upward of two million people crowding onto the Copacabana to welcome the Pope to Rio is an amazing thought. Yet in less than six months that is what we will be doing.
If you are going to Rio this year you are lucky. It truly will be a once in a lifetime affair.
If you are still thinking about it – stop thinking! You may never get the chance again.
I started by thinking about the role WYD has played in my life. I end by thinking what role it continues to play.
But more importantly I pray that this WYD in Rio will be for those who attend a grace filled pilgrimage: that they will grow in their relationship with God and so be prepared to follow His call.
Fr Simon Gore
Director of Youth Ministry, Archdiocese of Liverpool
Howdy I’m Phil Ross, Director of Youth Ministry for Westminster and the new guy in town, having only been appointed to post in September 2012.
One of my first projects was to organise and lead the Diocesan Pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.
As a part of my WYD familiarisation activity, I took some time out in November 2012 to visit Rio to see first hand what lies ahead for my group. I was also to attend the 2nd Delegates Meeting on behalf of England & Wales. This helped me get behind the scenes and the Local Organising Committee are very well advanced with their preparations and exceptionally professional.
I’d seen many television programmes on Rio and most recently the Michael Palin series on Brazil did a decent piece on this major city.
My main thoughts prior to arrival was to consider logistics, safety and something my children refer to as the ‘vibe !’.
The journey out to Rio was perfectly ok and to keep costs sensible I went via Madrid and had no issues at all. Iberia did a fine job. This loop into a European Hub was likely to be one we’d use when the group went out for WYD so it was good to have the experience.
On arriving in Rio I headed for my hotel and it was apparent straight away was that Rio isn’t especially multi-lingual and where people can speak another language beyond Portuguese, I think Spanish and Italian are you best shout if you cant grasp the mother tongue.
Probably worth getting your head round the normal half a dozen key phrases with ‘no thank you’ and ‘yes please’ and ‘coffee please’ being three important ones !
During my stay I spent much of my time roaming on foot and was out an about from around 7am to 11pm most evenings and always felt safe and secure.
The Rio skyline often dominated by Christ the Redeemer.
Although Rio is a pleasure to get around by foot, sometimes you need to venture further afield and the metro system is fast, clean and safe.
I took time out to visit Copacabana Beach (site for Central Acts and the Opening Ceremony) and a close-by local market and the people were friendly and accommodating; I wasn’t brave enough to haggle but I’m told they expect you to !
Well, the ‘vibe’ was fantastic and Rio is a wonderful City and WYD will be the experience of a lifetime.
The Vigil will be attended by over 2m Pilgrims and this scale will dwarf both the World Cup and Olympics; both due to be hosted by Rio in the coming years. I guess we’ll fully test the Rio infrastructure but what I’ve seen so far tells me that preparations are well underway and they’ll cope admirably.
To be honest Rio is a stunning home to wonderful people who live in a safe city that can be navigated easily and is beautiful and clean.
So, If you want to go just make it happen. There are countless ways to raise the money you’ll need. Hook up with one of the Diocese groups and they’ll give you some support and guidance. Rio is simply spectacular and to be on Copacabana beach when the Holy Father drives by will be very special. The vigil with 2.8m other Pilgrims will be a rare opportunity to be among fellow Pilgrims in this sort of scale. Rio is safe, friendly, warm, faith-led and simply beautiful – don’t let this chance go !!
This is Rio:
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.
Here is the link for the outstanding and inspirational talk by Archbishop Timothy Dolan about Mission and Evangelisation, given to ukpilgrims and another 16,000 pilgrims at the Love and Life centre.
And since it has been a few weeks from WYD and life is swimming back into normality for many of us, it is important to ask ourselves: will I let WYD become part of history? Or am I ready to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and share my experiences lived at World Youth Day with my friends, family and parish?
There is lots that can be done but personally, I will start this weekend by telling my parish congregation (in all 3 masses) about what a wonderful experience World Youth Day was – a life experience not to be missed by anyone! And I will formally invite anyone who is interested in WYD Rio 2013 to join me and start fundraising. All I had to do was approach my parish priest and ask to do this – I don’t particularly like to speak in public but I figure that if I want to spread the good news of Jesus and WYD, I really have to get out of my comfort zone as well as give a little of my time for it.
However WYD Madrid is not the only thing I want to speak about as I will be making the most of the opportunity and inviting young people to attend the Flame Congress to be held in March – this will be a great opportunity to re-unite all of us ukpilgrims for a catch up as well as a spiritual warm up for the next WYD.
As you can see, there is lots that can be done! Madrid wasn’t a dream, the dream starts now in our homes and parishes, now that we’ve been ‘planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith‘ (St Paul) it’s time to ‘go out and make disciples‘ (Mt 28:19) with those around us.
Let’s do it! By getting our inspiration by praying to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – who are the everlasting source of energy – listen to the talk by archbishop Dolan again, remind yourself of Madrid and the wonderful experience it was, reflect how it touched your heart and build up your faith with other Catholics like you.