Stirrings of the Spirit

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World Youth Day Experiences

My deposit has now been paid to attend the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain and I am suddenly feeling exuberant and alive and excited at the possibilities. Its taken be a bit by surprise, because for the last year or so, I have been tossing up whether or not I should go, and ultimately decided that I wouldn’t.  I have been to three World Youth Days in the past both as a participant and also leading a group.  I wondered if maybe I had gained all I could from the World Youth Day experience and thought I’d step aside and leave the space open for someone else to take.  Also, now that I am married, my priorities are different, and 18 days is a long time to be away from my husband, plus it would put on quite a strain on our budget. 

Those plans changed.  I will be starting a new job in January, and part of the job description will be to lead the Diocesan group to Spain.  Something that I had dismissed months ago as not being for me, is now suddenly a source of great excitement.   However, keep me in your prayers.  I don’t know if excitement is all I’m going to be feeling over the next eight months.

My first World Youth Day was Toronto 2002.  As a Due South fan, it was always my dream to go to Canada, and then combined with a World Youth Day, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.  It was the first time my diocese had ever sent people to a World Youth Day, and I went with two other young women.  It was a wonderful experience to be surrounded by so many other young Catholics. I came from a small parish, with mostly older people.  I’m sure its not the only parish in the world like that. Where you are the young person, and the next youngest are your parents.  It came be disheartening at times, but after my first World Youth Day experience, there was no way I could go back home thinking I was the only young Catholic in the world.  That memory will always stay with me.

My next World Youth Day was Cologne 2005.   It wasn’t a good year for me.  I had lost my job in December 2004 due to the small business I worked for going bankrupt.  It was taking longer than expected to find a new one.  I also had to end a serious relationship earlier that year. It was one of the darkest times of my life.  There were moment I seriously thought that God had just abandoned me.  Yet somehow through all the sadness, and a lack of income, I found my way to Germany.  My church community had raised enough money to cover half my costs.  It was an incredible effort, and one that I will also be extremely grateful for. It was exactly what I needed.  I rediscovered the Love of God, and renewed my faith in him, and realised that no matter how dark I perceived things to be, God would never ever abandon me.  That trip also included a pilgrimage in Turkey and Greece.  Neither were places I probably would have gone on my own volition, but they are incredible countries. I cannot wake for another opportunity to visit Turkey and the Greek islands again. 

The last WYD I attended was Sydney 2008.  I led a group from my parish of 20 people.  I probably went into the challenge a little idealise and naive, expecting everyone to get along and behave themselves and not get into any mischief.  Its possible that some people in my group had different ideas.  Once again, the church community played a big role in getting the group there.  As it was in Australia, less money was needed to get people there, so we were able to fundraise enough money to cover all the costs of registration and travel for everyone attending WYD from our parish.  I think that most of the people had a great time. They got to experience that wonder of being part of a global community, and that faith in Jesus conquers barriers such as language and culture.  I had plenty of stressed out moments, but it warms my heart to hear one of them tell me it was the best experience of their life.  I think the lesson I learned from that WYD was that I have something to offer the church.  No matter how small and insignigicant it may seem at times, I have something to give.  Whether it be typing minutes from a parish meeting, leading a youth group, driving someone to Mass, becoming a reader, or praying for someone who is sick, we all have something to give. 

And now Madrid is just around the corner. I’m a little bit wiser this time around, so hopefully won’t make the same mistakes as last time.  I am hoping for another wonderful experience, and wonder what will be revealed to me this time.   I hope and pray that I will be able to facilitate an experience for the young people attending World Youth Day with me, that they will be open to learn their own gifts and the messages that God has for them. I hope that WYD will be as rewarding an experience for them as it has been for me.

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December 7, 2010 - Posted by | Faith, Spirituality | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Exciting 🙂

    Comment by Chazz Byron | December 8, 2010 | Reply


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