Callum from the Billingham YCW Group has kindly offered to share his thoughts about the experience of World Youth Day in Panama this year. Thank you for sharing this Callum.
World Youth Day in Panama was truly an amazing experience, not only was my faith strengthened more than I knew it could, I made lots of great new friends and memories which will last a life time.
Masses of young people sang ‘We are the youth of the Pope’ in Spanish throughout the city with flags being waved from every corner of the globe. The people of Panama were all extremely friendly and welcoming, with many wanting to be pictured with the Union Jack, they offered cool water for pilgrims and the volunteers made us all feel very safe.
A pilgrimage would not be a pilgrimage without some form of hardship, and this for me was definitely the heat and humidity and although tough this made everyday more rewarding.
I enjoyed every moment of my trip to South America and to pick a highlight is difficult but for me it was at the overnight vigil. As we knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament with around 1 million other young Catholic’s from all around the world, accompanied by the Holy Father, the sheer silence during this time was breathtaking and overwhelming. Never have I experienced this many people my own age demonstrate an incredible amount of faith, it made me very proud to be a Catholic.
The trip also made me realise my place in the Church today, as the Holy Father said that the young people are not the future of this Church but are the ‘Now’ and as a young person my role is just as important as any other and I can make a difference.
My first World Youth Day will go down as a huge success and I can’t wait till the next one in Portugal, at least the journey won’t be as long!