Pope Francis ignites the flame of faith for students at World Youth Day 2019


WYD 2019 has been a pilgrimage to Mexico, Panama and the United States for a two-week festival of faith with millions of youth from around the world joining Pope Francis for an encounter with Jesus and deeper faith formation. Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv lead 171 pilgrims from the Diocese of Parramatta to World Youth Day 2019 (WYD).

The event reached its climax on 27 January with the overnight prayer Vigil and Sunday Mass at the Campo San Juan Pablo II on the outskirts of Panama City.

Diocese of Parramatta pilgrims traded their hotel beds to sleep under the stars on grass and gravel. An estimated 700,000 pilgrims attended the Vigil and final Mass of World Youth Day 2019 and during his speech at the Vigil, Pope Francis said the Lord offers an “invitation to be part of love story”.

The speech formed part of an evening of prayer, music and adoration that for many is seen as the highlight of World Youth Day. The crowds of pilgrims fell silent during Eucharistic Adoration, many on their knees for the entire 30 minutes of holy service.

Video from Day 12 featuring Grey Whitby

Pilgrims took part in the pilgrimage walk to the site of the Vigil and Final Mass. The Vigil was a unique time of prayer and meeting with Christ. There was an atmosphere of total peace, but also great joy.

The final day of the World Youth Day 2019 pilgrimage for the Diocese of Parramatta pilgrims was marked with a day of reflection and contemplation, culminating in a final Mass at their retreat at Stoney Creek Ranch, two hours out of Houston, Texas.

The group sharing session was followed by a chance for pilgrims to gather and share in their small groups for a final time and to journal their personal experiences. This was followed by the final Mass of the pilgrimage.


The Diocese of Parramatta pilgrims during their post-World Youth Day retreat in Houston, Texas. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

After Mass, each chaplain gave a word of encouragement to pilgrims. Fr Andrew Fornal OP, parish priest at St Joseph’s Parish Kingswood, said the experience was just the beginning of their faith. “The seed has been planted, it is up to you to take care of it, to water it, to give it sunlight.”

Addressing the pilgrims Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta said, “people back home expect massive change coming back from this pilgrimage. We don’t expect anything like that, it’s making the change in the little things. Seeing God in the little actions you take every day.”

Portugal has been named host for the next World Youth Day.

Click here to relive the day-by-day blog of our pilgrims' World Youth Day experience.


Posted By CathEd Parra at 31/01/2019 9:46:48 AM

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