Reflections from World Youth Day 2013
By Roslyn B., Sister of Mercy Novice in Guyana
God has truly blessed me with the privilege of allowing me to attend my first World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio De Janero, Brasil. Twenty seven pilgrims, including our Bishop Francis Alleyne, left Guyana for a two-day journey to Rio.
Several weeks prior to leaving Guyana, our group of young people met for lectio divina, faith-sharing and fun. It was a time of deepening our relationship with God and each other. By the time we began our pilgrimage, we were very excited to see Brasil and meet Pope Francis but also our minds and hearts were open to encountering God in a new way.
Guyana has a small population so I was totally amazed by the number of young people as well as older adults attending the event. It was such a joy to meet and share life with people from various countries, cultures and languages. I was overwhelmed by the diversity among us, yet felt the unity of one faith. It did not matter whether you were red, white or green, we all shared one great faith. There was a strong sense of the presence of God among us. I converted to Catholicism in 2008; therefore I am new to being Catholic. The experience gave a sense of rootedness and connection with the universal Church.
The catechesis sessions were very rich and challenging. We addressed the needs of our world and how we as young people could respond to these needs. In looking at the theme, “Go and Make Disciples of all Nations”, what stayed with me throughout my stay in Brasil was the call to encourage each other to unite and remain faithful to ourselves as well as to God – even if it means being criticized and attacked. Listening to the Word each day and the passion with which it was read moved me to want to respond to the Gospel with courage and at the same time remain non-violent.
I did not expect to be so touched and excited about being in the presence of Pope Francis. But as I stood among the crowd waiting for him to pass by, I was caught up in the excitement of those around me and I thought to myself, “Am I really here and is it really the Pope I am looking at? When he walked on to the stage to celebrate Mass, I was moved to tears.
Other highlights of the week for me were: the beauty of Brasil; the warmth of the people; the quiet and profound experience of God in the vigil; and the moving and joyous celebration of the Liturgy. It was truly a sense of Communion and Community.
As I move towards my first profession of vows in September, I feel renewed and ready to make my commitment to God and to the Sisters of Mercy. I feel ready to live the Gospel and to “go and make disciples of all nations.” But more so, I feel a strong sense of God saying to me, “I am with you always.”