Last July 13, our CFC-FFL missionaries left for Brazil to attend World Youth Day. For each of them, it was an experience of a lifetime!
Journeying with the Young
A World Youth Day Testimony by Dylan Reyes, CFC YFL Fulltime Pastoral Worker
WYD 2013 was my third time to participate in a World Youth Day. I did not even plan to attend this WYD but I guess God has His ways of revealing His plan in ways we can never imagine. This is because in the middle of the preparations of our community’s delegation to the WYD 2013, I was asked by one of our leaders to accompany our delegation. Given that I have already been to two previous WYDs, I was asked to join the CFC-FFL delegation consisting of mostly first-time WYD participants.
Being obedient to my leaders, I find myself processing all the paper requirements and looking for funds in order to go to Brazil. I decided to join the delegation not because I wanted to but because I felt that I needed to. Never did I realize that God will use my sense of obligation to go to Rio as my ticket to hear God’s special message for me.
As soon as I reach the town of Maua for our Missionary Week (this is the pre WYD activity), I just knew that this will be a different WYD. I was certain that as I looked at the faces of the people there, I am seeing God’s love unfolding before my eyes. This is because the people of Maua welcome us with banners, flowers, hugs and kisses. This was a welcome that I haven’t experienced in my previous WYDs.
As I entered the Church, I realized that our group won’t be the only group to be assigned in the parish. There were pilgrims from Venezuela and Panama who joined us in the Missionary Week. This was my first time to experience a Missionary Week with pilgrims with other countries because usually I had Filipinos as companions.
Then they assigned foster families for all of us. I was excited to meet my foster parents since I had a good experience with my foster parents in WYD 2008. To my surprise, when my name was called, I was fetched by a teenager. It really felt odd to be fetched by someone younger than me when the other members of our delegation where fetched by families.
I stayed with Gustavo’s family for the whole week. He lives with his mom who is working, a younger brother and 2 grandmothers. They fed me and were good to me. They are wonderful people and I am just thankful that God allowed me to share this wonderful family with 2 more young brothers who are pilgrims from Venezuela.
Since Gustavo’s mom and brother are working and his grandmothers were already old, I was stuck with him the whole time in Maua. When most of the members of our delegation went out with their foster families, I was out with Gustavo’s friends. I spent most of my time in Maua talking with young people. Eating what they eat, doing what they are doing, hanging out where they are hanging. In a special and yet different way, I felt God’s love through the young people of Maua.
Then when we moved to Rio for the WYD proper where I encountered a familiar scene. While waiting for my new foster family, I was again surprised to be fetched by another teenager. It turned out that I will be living with him and his friends. They are college students who are not active in the Church yet volunteered to accept WYD pilgrims in their houses simply because they knew English and they wanted to know people from a different country.
Since they are college students I found myself again spending most of the time with the young. When my subgroupmates went out to see the different places in Rio with their foster parents; I went out in Rio with my new peers. As I spent time with them, they started to share their lives with me and I discovered their joys and frustrations in life. They even shared to me their issues with the Church. I tried my best to explain things with them and to show the beauty of the Catholic Church. I even invited them to attend some of the activities which they did. This is one of the highlights of WYD 2013 for me – to be at the vigil with inactive Catholic youths and just spending time with God in Copacabana.
Then when the WYD proper started, I found myself busy preparing for the Catechesis. This is the first time that CFCYFL will serve as official animators of a WYD Catechetical site. We led the prayers, sessions, and ushering for the sacraments. We also had the opportunity to share our charism with the different pilgrims in our site.
Another thing that I didn’t expect to happen in WYD 2013 was that I will spend most of my time looking after a different sub-group. I found this weird since my only reason to be in WYD is to look after the YFL members going there. As it turned out YFL was grouped with the pilgrims of Assumption College with only a few teachers to guide them. The leaders of CBCP-ECY asked us to be with them since they are all teenagers. Since we have enough fulltime workers (FTW) to spare, I was asked to be with YFL FTW who will be with the Assumption sub-group. Hence, I spent most of my time attending WYD major events with these teen pilgrims.
At this point, I knew that WYD 2013 is different because this is the only WYD that I had to:
- Spend most of my WYD with young people who are not official pilgrims.
- Spend most of my WYD looking after a different group of young pilgrims other than YFL
- Spend most of my WYD serving other pilgrims.
I never expected these things to happen yet God allowed me to experience all of it. As I reflected about it at the vigil and final mass of WYD, God’s message became clear to me through the words of Pope Francis. When he uttered the words “I have called you to journey with the young”, suddenly all these experiences made sense to me.
This is the reason why God allowed me to spend my WYD with young people from different countries, with young people who are not pilgrims, with young people who belonged to a different sub-group. God allowed me to experience all of these to remind me of a special calling that He is giving to me and that is to journey with the young. God is telling me that my path to holiness is with the young. As He called me to be a missionary to the young, I am to love them with all my heart, mind and soul.
God brought me to WYD 2013 for only one reason and that is so that He can affirm me of the mission that He has entrusted to me through my service in the community, which is to make disciples of the young! He brought me there so that He can strengthen me in order to journey with the young and bring them closer to God!