Several hundred thousand pilgrims, young people, clergy, and religious gathered in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day this past August. The gathering was the first one since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pilgrims traveled from countries around the world, and among them was a group of parishioners from right here at St. Patrick Parish, supported by members of our parish community. When they arrived at one of the events, they saw Pope Francis drive past. Wyatt Thompson says this was the most memorable moment of the trip for him.
“It was so unexpected but a really cool blessing to see him,” Wyatt says.
Annie McDaniel was one of the participants and says the most spiritually rewarding part of the trip occurred during the Vigil on the last day of the pilgrimage during Eucharistic Adoration.
“It was amazing because before the pope brought out the monstrance, it was complete chaos in the park as people tried to find their group or fill up water bottles or set up their mats and sleeping bags,” Annie says. “As soon as people realized that Jesus was being exposed, they stopped what they were doing and knelt, even though many of us could only see Jesus on the big projector screens or not at all because we were so far away.
“That moment really allowed me to understand more deeply the power of the Eucharist and Jesus’ desire for each of us to encounter Him in a personal way,” Annie adds.
The trip provided the means for all of the participants to enjoy a special and unique experience, leading them to new friendships, closer relationships with God, deeper prayer, and meeting those from different backgrounds.
Bennett Fischer enjoyed the opportunity to travel with a group who shared the desire to grow closer to God.
“I really enjoyed getting to know them better and liked how we were able to bond over the amazing things that were happening as well as the challenges we faced,” he says.
Ali McDaniel found the trip was a way to grow closer to Christ because she experienced the diversity and size of the universal Church.
“It helped me visualize just how big and diverse His Church is while also allowing me to recognize how God is able to care for and see each of us in such a deeply personal way,” Ali says. “I saw through the ways He answered my prayers during this pilgrimage that God loves us each so intentionally.”
While on pilgrimage, they stopped at the apparition site in Fatima, which was among the most memorable moments for Ellie Wood.
“We participated in a candlelight Rosary procession, and some pilgrims from our group carried the Mary statue,” Ellie says. “It was so inspirational to be surrounded by so many disciples of Christ.”
Annie wishes to thank those who financially supported her and the other pilgrims who had the opportunity to be with so many other young Catholics. The participants from our parish prayed for their supporters and their intentions along the journey, especially in Fatima.
“This trip allowed a lot of young people to have their faith reinvigorated in ways that are really only possible on a life-changing trip like this,” she says. “It allowed the young people from St. Patrick’s to recognize that there are so many people in the world who are Catholic and love Jesus and want to follow Him.”