By Ada Escopete
God has truly blessed me with the privilege of allowing me to attend my first (WYD) here in the Philippines in 1995. Twenty-seven pilgrims, including our bishop, left our humble parish for a trip to Manila.
Several weeks prior to leaving Palawan, our group of young people met for , 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 and meet Pope John Paul II. Our minds and hearts were also open to encountering God in a new way.
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. 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 experience 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.
As we celebrate the feast of Saint John Paul II on October 22, let us remember his great legacy in founding the World Youth Day. Saint John Paul II, pray for us!