Participating in World Youth Day has been my lifelong dream ever since I began serving in the Youth Ministry. I couldn’t participate in past WYDs due to scheduling and financial constraints. I would then resort to participate in every Local World Youth Day so I can still ignite the fire inside my heart as youth missionary. Yet, the dream of being a pilgrim remained deeply rooted in my heart.
Fast forward to last quarter of the previous year, there’s a push and pull inside my heart whether to go or not. When I read this year’s WYD theme, I felt a strong sense that God was speaking to me, urging me to attend.
Mary arose and went with haste.
This year’s WYD theme centers around the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, a favorite Bible passage of mine because it shows how much love and effort Mary was willing to give just to be present to her cousin Elizabeth.
With haste, I said yes to this journey not knowing what’s in store for me.
My group and I diligently fulfilled all the requirements, but unfortunately, my visa application was denied, along with 30 other applicants from the Episcopal Commission on Youth. This setback, while challenging, held deep meaning. This denial humbled me. I spent a day crying over it but told myself to let this go so I can focus on our preparations for the WYC. I poured my heart out in the preparation for our congress not knowing what surprises lies ahead of me. A day after the congress, we received good news about our visas. We were allowed to appeal in the embassy for our visa application. This would mean another set of requirements and another payment for the application fee. I was hesitant at first, but I realize that God will not give us a chance for nothing. Hindi paasa ang Diyos. I held on to this. Allowing myself to bask in the process of purifying my desire for the WYD.
In the days leading up to our supposed flight to Lisbon, we encountered numerous challenges, from passport delays to flight rebooking and sourcing funds for rebooking fees. Another challenge was accepting that we’d be placed in a new subgroup rather than our original one. All of this unfolded within a week, but the good news was that we secured our visas and rebooked our flights.
Although the WYD experience wasn’t as planned, it was undoubtedly the journey God intended for us. I vividly recall the moment we set foot in Lisbon, we all said, “Grabe, nandito na tayo.”
Our WYD Proper experience is not a smooth sailing one. We had to deal with discomforts like walking for how many hours just to get to the venue and the scourging heat of Portuguese summer. Everything is new to me, but I would always go back to what I’ve been through just to get to Lisbon.
Being able to attend the WYD somehow strengthened my missionary life, and it made me dream more for the young people I am ministering to. Each discomfort was offered to the conversion of every young people who doesn’t know the Lord. In Lisbon, I encountered individuals who hadn’t fully embraced their Catholic faith, attending for leisure or peer influence. My heart bleeds for this people. I hope one day that all of the young people who will attend the World Youth Day in the future would really appreciate the beauty of the Catholic Faith that we have. That these young people would allow themselves to undergo conversion that will make all of us pleasing to the Almighty. I hope that this World Youth Day ignited the fire in the hearts of many young people to love and serve the Lord, the same way it ignited the fire in my heart.
And so, I take with me a transfigured heart ready to love and ready to suffer all for His greater glory. With haste, I will make His love known to the world.