Portugal experienced days of great faith, love and joy during World Youth Day. After 4 days of pre-WYD at the Sacred Heart of Mary School in Lisbon, the young people of our schools and communities in Portugal and in countries where the Sisters of the Heart of Mary are located joined the celebration with Pope Francis from 1 to 6 August and lived unforgettable days.
For the young people, it was a chance to be close to the Pope and especially closer to God. “It was an opportunity to reconnect and be close to the Holy Pope,” said João Coutinho, a former student of the Our Lady of the Rosary School in Porto and an animator at WYD RSHM. Over 300 young people, monitors and religious from countries such as Portugal, Brazil, São Tomé, East Timor and Zambia participated in the RSHM WYD.
Elisa de Paula Reis Lima, from the Divine Holy Spirit Parish (Paróquia do Divino Espírito Santo), travelled from Ubá, Brazil, to live the WYD with the Heart of Mary. For her the experience meant stepping out of her comfort zone. “Your faith is much bigger than you think and living these moments is important for you to be able to see it,” she said.
Faith is the word most repeated by young people. The WYD was an opportunity to “open up my faith to the community, not just to keep it to myself”, said Carolina Venade, a former student at the Sacred Heart of Mary School in Lisbon. It meant “living an experience of faith with people who believe the same as me”, added Joana Moreira, who also studied in Lisbon. For Suaziney Cabral, from São Tomé, it was “another walk together with the youth and together we live in one faith, as Christ taught us.”
During the pre-WYD days and the time with the Pope, the SHM youth revealed that they have an urgency to help those in need, like Fr Gailhac. In addition to the desire to make their faith grow, to witness to the community, to be closer to Jesus and Mary and to follow God’s will, the young people want to discover themselves and others, to gain more courage every day and live unforgettable moments, like those of WYD in Lisbon.
In the CoMTigo Youth Movement – which offers young people a pastoral journey of deepening and living the spirituality of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary – the preparation for WYD began long before August, last October, with monthly meetings and catechesis, which prepared them for the experience.
“It was an opportunity to be with young people, to increase our Faith and to bear witness of our joy so that everyone around us feels a little better every day”, emphasises teacher Teresa Leite, from Our Lady of the Rosary School, in Porto. Paulo Jorge Pinto, who also teaches at Rosary School called it “An explosion of hope”. For Carla Siqueira, a teacher at Sagrado in Lisbon, all the positive energy surrounding the Pope and Christ at the WYD inspires us to be better. She called it “an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything”.
During the Day, the young people also visited the Vocational Fair, a place of encounter and vocational discoveries, where the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary had a replica of the Fountain of Béziers and abundant water.
Ricardo Ramalho, from the Porto School, who also accompanied the young people, mentioned “it was good to see their joy, it is great to accompany these young people who are our future. They are the energy of today.” Ricardo also emphasises that the Pope’s words, spoken to youth around the world, are in line with the present.
Words of the Pope that stay with young people and all of us:
Read below for excerpts from the Pope’s speeches during the Welcoming Ceremony, Stations of the Cross, Vigil and Holy Mass of the XXXVII World Youth Day. Source: Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana (www.vatican.va)
“Let these be days when we fully realize in our hearts that we are loved just as we are. Not as we want to be, but as we are now. This is the starting point of World Youth Day, but above all it is the starting point of our lives. Young men and women, we are loved the way we are, without makeup.”
“Jesus never closes the door, never, but invites you to enter: come and see. Jesus receives, Jesus welcomes. In these days, each of us transmits the love of Jesus. God loves you. God calls you. How lovely this is! God loves me. God calls me. He wants me to be close to him.”
Stations of the Cross with Young People
“Jesus wishes to calm our fears, your fears, my fears; he wants to calm those deep fears with his consolation. He also desires to encourage us to embrace the risk of loving. Indeed, you know it well, better than I do, that to love is risky. We must take the risk of loving. Yet, though it is a risk, it is a risk worth taking, and Jesus accompanies us as we do. He always accompanies us, always walks with us. Throughout our lives, he is always by our side.”
Vigil with Young People
“… the only way, the only situation in which it is permissible to look down on others is… well, you tell me, out loud: to help them up.”
“I leave you with these thoughts. Carry on; if you fall, get back up; walk with a goal in mind, and train each day of your lives. Nothing is free in life, everything has to be paid for. Only one thing is free: the love of Jesus! So, with this free gift that we have – the love of Jesus – and with the desire to carry on the journey, let us walk in hope, let us be mindful of our roots, and move forwards, without fear. Do not be afraid.”
Holy Mass for World Youth Day
“What will we take back with us? I would respond with these three words: to shine, to listen, and to be unafraid”
“Dear young people, I would like to look into the eyes of each of you and say: Do not be afraid. I will tell you something else, also very beautiful: it is no longer I, but Jesus himself who is now looking at you. He knows each of your hearts, each of your lives; he knows your joys, your sorrows, your successes and failures. He knows your heart. Today, he says to you, here in Lisbon, at this World Youth Day: “Have no fear, take heart, do not be afraid!”.”