WYD and IOYE Reflections
Six Months On... Aaron Nash
Nearly six months on from IOYE and WYD, these events are still vivid in my memory, as if they happened only yesterday. And I imagine that they will stay firmly entrenched there for many years to come. Being a part of such a large gathering was truly a faith-affirming experience but, like many of my friends, I felt a hole in my life when I returned home to Adelaide.
I struggled to figure out what to make of the whole experience. All of a sudden, I was without the wonderful people that I had been surrounded by for the past two weeks. The warm sensation of peace, love and “free hugs” that was omnipresent in Sydney had now been replaced by the regular cynicism of everyday life in an increasingly-secular world. I asked myself whether the world had room for my faith. But I only had to think of my powerful experience at IOYE and WYD to answer this question.
I remember when I was truly struck by the power of this huge event. It was at Pope Benedict’s first address at Barangaroo, surrounded by thousands of young people. In his address, Pope Benedict said, “We are all gathered together in our search for God.” I remember thinking a lot about this statement. “ALL of us?” I thought. “Even the Pope?” I remember how much it struck me that Pope Benedict had included himself as one of us, searching for God. I thought he would have ‘found God’ long ago. This thought stuck with me throughout the week of WYD events, and it has been in my mind ever since, reaffirming the purpose of this spiritual journey…because it is a journey, and this was just a small part of that journey.
So now the mission falls to us, as we were constantly reminded throughout the WYD events. We are Jesus’ disciples in 2008 and beyond. Our challenge is to ensure that the zeal and enthusiasm that was so apparent among the youth of the Church does not slip away like the last forgotten Australian Idol winner.
The next National Oblate Youth Encounter in January 2009 promises to be an exciting and reinvigorating event. With emotions still running high from July’s events, 2009 is expected to be the largest NOYE gathering yet. The leadership team faces the difficult task of putting on an event that will equal the impact of IOYE, but I have no doubt that they are up to the task. It is easy to feel the ‘come down’ after the high of WYD, but we must stay motivated because the journey is not over yet.
||My World Youth Day and International Oblate Youth Encounter
My name is Stephen, for those who don’t know me and I too am another lucky pilgrim who attended the International Oblate Youth Encounter and WYD. Personally IOYE was an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life, as was my World Youth Day encounter. Leading up to WYD I was unaware of what to expect, however was encouraged to embark upon my journey with an open mind. I stand before you, still in awe of what I felt and experienced. From the moment I stepped foot inside Mazenod College to the moment I arrived home from Sydney, at St. Mary’s Seminary I knew that I was part of something special that would effect the way I approached life and my belief in God.
I would have to say meeting new people was one of the many highlights that made my WYD such an awesome experience. Arriving at Mazenod I was self conscious and unaware of where I stood amongst the crowd. However I was soon reminded that everybody was here for the exact same reason as I was. To become closer with God and meet others from around the world, who too were young believers of Christ like me. Soon I had formed a number of friendships that I felt had been formed for many years. At times I had to stop, reflect and just appreciate how my faith had broken down the usual barriers of forming friendships. This sense of trust and reassurance in yourself and others was evident by the way people expressed themselves freely, knowing they were surrounded by people who weren’t going to ridicule or judge them. At one stage I even started dancing and I can tell you that isn’t a thing I usually like doing but I felt so at ease with people around me, that I couldn’t resist taking centre stage.
Throughout my journey I witnessed many spectacular events like the opening and closing ceremony at both the IOYE and WYD. I saw pilgrims interact with one another on the streets of Sydney in a way that made you wish it could last forever, I listened to many wise speakers and saw our Holy father the Pope, which for some is a once in a life time experience. However one moment actually two moments, that I remember so clearly took place at the closing ceremony. They were the two reflections that took place after the Pope’s homily and the receiving of communion. During one reflection I can remember having a quick glance around me and could not believe that I was surrounded by half a million people who were deadly silent. I was in complete disbelief because I can tell you that it’s a struggle just to keep my family quiet for a whole two minutes, if even that yet alone half a million people. It honestly felt as if you were there by yourself it was so quiet. Those two moments of WYD I will remember for the rest of my life along with many others. It just reminded me that every single person at Randwick that day was there because they wanted to be, they wanted to became closer with God and they were ready to accept the challenge to lead the next generation of our church.
Overall I loved every minute of the IOYE and WYD.
Hopefully in three years time I will be fortunate and able to round up enough money to attend WYD in Spain and will be able to stand before you again and reflect upon my pilgrimage of Spain. I can honestly say I wish there was an IOYE and WYD day every year however it makes me appreciate how fortunate I was to attend my first WYD at such a young age and I must say if it wasn’t for some of the team and the parish asking me to jump on board I probably would never have gone. SO while I’m up here I would just like to say thanks heaps because if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be standing before everyone tonight talking about my experience. I’d be down there somewhere kicking myself that I didn’t go. So thanks again for that little push and for getting me on board! I owe you one.
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World Youth Day and International Oblate Youth Encounter Reflection
This July was not only my first World Youth Day, but also my first experience with the Oblate Community. Over the two weeks of WYD gatherings I was mostly inspired by the community I traveled with. I was shown each day the face of God through the pilgrims’ enthusiasm and resilience; through the host families’ overwhelming generosity and hospitality; and through the Oblate Fathers’ care and sense of humour.
The Oblates’ passion for the Church, the community and God has reminded me of my own passion for life and the community. It has given me the confidence to rejoice in who I am and to embrace the gifts that set me apart from others. I realise these gifts are what make me unique and are the tools I have been given to make my own contribution.
I have also made a lot of good friends and have become a part of an Oblate Youth Group. It is a favourite time of my week. I am grateful for the encouragement from Father Mackintosh to take the step to join the Oblates in this pilgrimage. I joined WYD alone and have arrived home with renewed Spirit and a new family to help me continue to witness the world.
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