By Isabel, Y11
This year, World Youth Day, a worldwide encounter of young people with the pope, which happens every 3 years, took place in Lisbon. I was lucky enough to go and experience this incredible event first hand, along with 6 other young people from the Hallam Diocese.
Throughout the week, we went to many different events, this included: the opening mass, the pope’s first address, a visit to Fatima, the stations of the cross and the vigil. For me, the most moving event was the vigil. This was when everyone taking part in World Youth Day came to together in this enormous park and camped out for the night. The pope joined us in the evening and gave a speech regarding the theme of world youth day: Rise Up. In particular, he spoke about how life is like a journey with its twists and turns and that we might fall down, but that we should remember that Jesus is always there with us helping us to move forward. I thought this a really hopeful message and I found it very powerful thinking that all these young people (around 1.5 million!) will go back to their home country and share with their parishes and family what they experienced and that ripple effect the world will feel.
During the vigil, there was also adoration, which was a very special moment of prayer we were able to participate in. It was incredible how everyone (I repeat 1.5 million young people!) suddenly went into a serene sort of silence, and it was at that moment that I really thought to myself, wow all these people have come from far and wide for the same exact reason, that is to experience the love Jesus has to offer.
Overall, World Youth Day showed to me how alive and thriving the church really is. It was amazing to speak to people from all around the world and hear their experiences knowing we were all united by the same faith. It really was an experience I will be forever grateful for, and I’d like to thank my parents, my parish (St Francis), Sue McDonald (the youth coordinator for Hallam), and everyone who has helped me in both fundraising for the event and making this unforgettable pilgrimage happen!