Although the World Youth Day (WYD) is over, the memories of the celebration will remain in the hearts of the pilgrims.
Our typical day in the week-long festivity included lining up for hours while making friends with other delegates beside us. We had to stand under the heat for long periods of time, but what made it bearable was exchanging items with fellow pilgrims from other countries and posing for pictures with their flags.
We gave out our “Facebook name,” but made sure our newfound friends weren’t dangerous or dubious.
We chanted together and sang for the Holy Father. We said “Hola” (Spanish for “Hello”) to other pilgrims we saw on the road. We danced to the improvised musical instruments of the youth delegates. We had fun attending the youth festivals and visiting cultural landmarks.
We were showered with water by people, sprinkled from fire trucks or above their apartments to keep us refreshed. We took the metro and buses, walked for kilometers without even noticing it, and got home really later than our usual bedtime. Of course, we also prayed.
Next: Rio de Janeiro
The WYD in Madrid was such a success, and it was relatively well organized despite the reported riots, which weren’t too serious. There is no doubt that many people will sign up for the next one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this coming 2013.
As to our group, here are what some of the girls had to say about their experience:
“My favorite part of WYD was the unforgettable feeling of peace when I saw the Pope. Amidst the shouts, hoots, and screams, I felt as if everything was in place. I was happy.” ––Nina Sunga, 16
“One lesson/virtue I learned from WYD was patience. We had to wait in line for hours just to get our food, visit the sites, and see the Pope. At first, it was frustrating but after a while, you realize that all the waiting is for God. Then you feel a sense of contentment.” ––Valerie Wei, 14
“WYD is all about being Christ-like, which requires us all to take up our own crosses and follow Him despite the obstacles that stand in our way. The riots and rains did not affect me negatively or stop me from enjoying the celebration.”– Bianca Marañon, 14
“My favorite part of the whole trip was seeing the Pope for the first time, because that was also the time we got hosed down to cool off the intense heat. I was able to meet many people during the six-hour wait.” ––Marie Ilagan, 15
“The best thing about WYD was the exposure to different cultures of the world. It also, in a way, strengthened the bond among the youths of many nations.” –– Steph Naval, 14
“I like that we got to meet so many people who were also Catholic. WYD helped unite the Catholic and Christian communities globally.”–Nica Depante, 14
“My favorite part of WYD was the ‘Way of the Cross’ because the Pope presided over it. All the pilgrims were present, and the WYD cross was carried from station to station by people from all walks of life.”–– Ella Cuevas, 15