Before World Youth Day, I didn’t know why I was going, but I felt called in some way. I’d been struggling with my faith; trying to find out who I was and what I believed. I’d never felt close to God. I’d never felt His love. I’d never trusted in Him. But I wanted to.
We have done a lot of travelling and seeing new places and amazing things. I have been open. I was willing to let God in. And slowly, I started to feel Him. My God Moment came during the Consecration at the opening Mass on Tuesday, when the sun peeped through the clouds and shone down on the altar – and stayed that way until after Communion. That was a moment of Wonder and Awe in God’s presence. I felt that He was truly there.
I feel that I’m more open to God. I’m willing to pray, and trust in Him. My sincere prayer was answered on Sunday, when I prayed on my way into the site of the Papal Mass that I would be able to do the long walk without pain in my leg – and I had not even a twinge for the whole day! I had never prayed like that before, and to have it answered in that way was another sign to me that God is there for me.
There were many moments over the three weeks of the pilgrimage that touched or struck a chord with me. One was during the Days in the Diocese in beautiful Warsaw. The host’s generosity is one I will never forget. She gave up her place for us to stay, fed us well and cleaned our clothes. The strong faith of the Polish people despite their dark and devastating history was inspirational.
One particular moment was following the outdoor mass in Warsaw, a man stopped me in the street to ask me a question about “finding God” after witnessing many joyful young people from around the world. It showed me that the event was really making a difference in people’s lives.
However, the experience that will stay with me the most is the feeling of unity among the crowds of young people from all over the world at each event. Thousands, sometimes millions, all singing and dancing gleefully to the same tune. It makes you wonder, if there were more people like this, what a wonderful world it would be.
My experience during World Youth Day has inspired me to be more merciful and active in my faith. Therefore, I propose to dedicate one year to acts of mercy in the community. This will incorporate both corporal and spiritual works of mercy. I invite the youth of this Archdiocese to join me in this endeavour.
Finally, I would like to sincerely thank all those who supported me including my family, Fr Francisco, St Luke’s parish in Woodvale, Pozible donors and the CYM for their generous support which enabled me travel to World Youth Day. The young people of today are all on a journey and they need your mercy!