The pilgrimage to St John Paul the Second’s Park was one of the hardest things we have all done with the blistering heat and the large amounts of weight in food packs and backpacks on our backs. But it was also one of the most spiritually rewarding. Through this difficult process, we only saw the tiniest, absolute smallest glimpse into the possible suffering of Christ and Saints themselves which encouraged us to keep going. Also with the help of Matt, singing worship songs, also made the walk a little quicker for us all whilst praying the rosary in small groups.
Finally, we see the park with all the screens and a small band playing and already pilgrims are camping out hours before the sleepout began. As all Sydney pilgrims found a spot to sleep, we were given hours of free time to talk to other pilgrims, trade with other countries and to play games with our teachers and friends.
Before we went to sleep, we were blessed with the opportunity of adoration which lead to some tears of happiness, forgiveness and sadness that fuelled us with a new energy of love from God. Bowing before the Lord with so many other young people allowed me to see the physical side of the experience for the first time. For once in my life, I could see faith as a physical thing in everyone instead of just a spiritual idea. After this, we were all encouraged to find a spot on the ground, spray a lot of insect repellent and crawl into our sleeping bags to wake up bright and early for closing mass the next day, and surprisingly the sleep wasn’t that bad.
Final mass was one that was an extremely wake up at 6am by one of the extremely loud presenters shouting ‘buenos dies’ so loud that we all jumped out of our sleeping bag. The mass itself was attended by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all around the world, and it was truly beautiful to see so many people celebrate the body and blood of Christ. Pope Francis challenged us in his homily that we are not the youth of just the future but we are the youth of the present and we are the present. We have a role in the church and we must build strong communities now in order to handle everything that comes our way as part of Gods plan. Finally, the announcement of the next World Youth Day being in Portugal signalled so many cheers from so many pilgrims in joint in unity and celebration of the next adventure in our faith.
World Youth Day was non stop every single day... and although there were moments of anger, sadness, frustration, exhaustion and tears, there were countless more moments of happiness, joy, blessings, small miracles, happy tears, friendship and love for everyone involved, including our Lord. It was the best week of my life and I wish I could go back to experience it again.