Youth, Schools, Education
A young pilgrim’s journey
I journeyed with Rimbrook and Lowana Opus Dei group to World Youth Day, made up of 20 Australian and five New Zealand young women.
My pilgrimage took me with my group, first to Rome for a week where we visited important Catholic sites including St Peter’s Basilica, Mary Major, St John Lateran, St Paul Outside the Walls, the Scala Sancta and the catacombs. We celebrated Mass in St Peter’s Basilica twice; the second time in the Hungarian chapel located amidst the Vatican grottos and tombs of the popes. We also spent a day in Assisi where we visited St Francis’ Basilica.
During my two weeks in Poland and Kraków we were surprised at the friendliness of the locals. People would smile and chat to us on the streets and one lady even handed us a bag of Polish sweets and chocolate. For our ‘Days in the Diocese’, we spent a day taking 15 chronically ill women on a 20-minute walk to the church where we prayed the rosary together. Although many were wheelchair bound and couldn’t speak English, they still managed to convey their welcome to us through hugs, non-stop chatter and selfies.
The WYD experience helped me to appreciate my faith a lot more. The friendliness of the locals and pilgrims, the fun and excitement at the youth festivals and of course the celebration of the Mass by Pope Francis along with so many young people emanated a great sense of joy in being Catholic. I think World Youth Day is a great experience from which all young people will benefit from in some way.
Monique Barrow (17) is based in Dannevirke and is a parishioner of St Joseph’s Parish.
Representing Caritas and Young Pacific at WYD
Only in the past few years have I begun taken my faith journey seriously. With a new chapter into adulthood beginning, I felt God was calling me to attend the upcoming World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakόw. This was a time in my life where I was not just finding who I wanted to be, but challenged to live out a faithful life – being and bringing Christ to whoever I meet.
This year, everything fell into place for me – including a job with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand (CANZ) ensuring the road ahead would lead me to Krakόw. With only days until the biggest gathering of young Catholics I could not help but feel a deep sense of gratitude. To not only attend WYD as a New Zealand pilgrim, but to be a representative in numerous capacities. Caritas Internationalis invited me and my colleague, Joe Moeono-Kolio, to present on behalf of CANZ and Caritas Oceania on how we engage with youth in our part of the world. At a large forum of young pilgrims and key-note speakers, we were able to share stories from Pacific youth on how climate change is affecting their communities.
God really paved the way for me to WYD. I couldn’t wait to experience the fullness of our Universal Church.
Now, with my WYD Kraków 2016 experience ended, I’ve returned to New Zealand full of hope, joy and peace. It’s difficult to process such an overwhelming week with so many grace-filled moments. A definite highlight was to sit on the podium to represent New Zealand, only 20 or so metres from Pope Francis, for the papal welcome. Another was our opportunity to walk in the footsteps of St John Paul II and St Faustina – pilgrimaging to where they ministered and prayed, venerating their relics, and praying for their intercession.
Being able to witness millions of young people so on fire with their faith in God and to make a change in the world reassures me the Spirit is at work. It is not easy being a young Catholic in a sometimes discouraging world. In the final Mass Pope Francis reminded us, ‘People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid…you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family’.
Joanna Viernes is Community and Supporter Liaison (Wellington and Palmerston North) Caritas.