Saturday, August 9, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The return from WYD, once the laundry is done and the pile of messages and emails are answered, becomes slightly surreal. The experiences that are so outrageous - sitting in a racetrack with 450,000 people for Mass…talking with people from Tonga, California, and the United Arab Emirates simultaneously…bundling up in hats and scarves and space blankets while we eat dinner in a field where Aussie Rules Football, soccer, and dancing are all going on…watching the Pope arrive in a boat-acade that floats past the Sydney Opera House…watching his welcome address on a cell phone of a Sydney-sider while our radios provide the audio…
To explain to someone who hasn’t sat in a field on the other side of the world, sweltering, frozen, drenched, or sunburned, it is is near impossible. Why you would ever wish to do such a thing? Moreover, why you would want to take a group of high school youth and young adults to such an event.
Then there is the popular media coverage…the usual coverage occurs regarding where the Pope went & what he said. The commentary appears saying shouldn’t the Church use its resources for other good deeds? Then there’s the attacks that occur on the Pope’s message or past deeds, the Church’s teachings or past deeds, the youth themselves.
Simply put, I truly believe that WYD is a worthwhile and incredibly value event. It is worth the two years of planning and mild ulcers. It is worth the challenges the planning committee faces. It is worth the sweltering heat of Rome in 2000, the downpour in Toronto in 2002, the chilly mist of Cologne in 2005, and the winter of Sydney in 2008. It is worthwhile because the participants hear words of wisdom and inspiration from bishops from around the world. It is worthwhile because connections are forged between people that would otherwise never happen. Many who went to Germany in 2005 are still in contact with their host families and friends made around the world. Participants see what it truly means to be part of a universal Church - faces from the world over, different ideas, a variety of spiritualities, challenges to their faith journey, encouragement to grow, and a greater sense of their Catholic identity and their personal identity. Those who go on pilgrimage return on mission. The host community sees a positive gathering of young people with their enthusiasm, faith, and sense of community providing a boost.
I could easily go on and on regarding WYD. I’ve been to four. Two of those were trips where I led a group. The best way to see the value of WYD is to go. Plan for WYD 2011 in Madrid, Spain.