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!
A World Youth Day Testimony by Julius Eguia, CFC YFL Fulltime Pastoral Worker
I really thank God for allowing me to experience His greatness again during World Youth Day in Rio. 2 years ago I was given a chance to go to WYD in Madrid and it was really awesome seeing different races gathering as one to celebrate the faith and seeing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in person! During that time, I just entered full time work. When I saw the Pope, my prayer to God was that He bless me in this life that I have entered. I prayed, too, that I may always have the heart of missionary everyday because to be a missionary is a commitment to God. Lastly, I prayed to be more faithful and to be able to fully trust His plans for me. After Pope Benedict XVI announced the next WYD, which will be in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, I told myself that what I experienced here in Madrid is enough. Well, God’s plans are way better than ours. I was given the chance to go to WYD again in Rio through the help of generous people around me. I realized to never short change what God can do in our lives.
Being in WYD Rio was a great privilege for me. This WYD experience really blessed me. It became a personal journey of faith even if I was serving as the YFL subgroup head. I was able to pray for my family, friends, and my ministry. I was also able to build good relationships to all the people we met there, especially to our host families in the Diocese of Petropolis and in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians are like Filipinos, very welcoming and hospitable; they make us feel that their home is ours, too. I really felt the sense of family there despite the language barrier but it didn’t hinder us to communicate and to relate with them because we used the language that is common to all– the language of LOVE. It was love even if we used our hands to communicate; it was love even if sometimes we didn’t understand them and just nod to what they say; And it was love when you make effort to use “Google Translate” to converse. Love is the key of a good relationship to others. We also had the chance to be with our high school friends/alaga from Assumption College. They have been with us all throughout our journey in WYD. It was really fun to be with them and we were blessed by their presence that reminded us what a happy youth servant should be.
I know God called me to be part of this marvelous event and true enough, World Youth Day was an affirmation God’s call to me. I was given the chance to see the Pope for the second time! This time it was Pope Francis. His presence was overwhelming and my heart was filled with so much joy because I saw Jesus in him. After two years of full time work, I was given the privilege to have another “courtesy call” with the Pope. I realized that in my two years in full time work, my prayers in Madrid really happened. He has been so great to me! My doubts have been overcome by faith; my fear have been overcome by trust. He is really my Promise – keeper! This knowing filled my heart was filled love for God and service. I became ready to do His work and follow His will no matter what. A big part of His affirmations of the call to be a missionary was through the places we visited. When we went to Cristo Redentor, Jesus Christ affirmed us that He redeemed us and so our call is to help others know that they have been saved through Him and that He welcomes us in a loving embrace. We also went to Our Lady of Fatima and that told me that our Lady is always with us, covering us with her blue mantle of protection and interceding for our prayers. Our host parish during Semana Missionaria was the chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul. Our stay there affirmed me of the mission: being apostle to others, making Christ known to them. And there, too, was the Parish of St. Francis Xavier. St. Francis is the patron saint of missionaries! God’s messages were very timely because the theme of the WYD was “Go and make disciples of all nations”.
WYD became an avenue for us to share our community’s charism. We have been given the chance to head an English catechetical site during the WYD proper by managing the program together with other Filipino pilgrims. One of the greatest gifts of God to our community is worship. During the Semana Missionaria, despite of the busy schedule, we found time to gather in worship. To our surprise, we ended it amazed because some of the pilgrims from other countries joined us! This happened not just once, though. There was a time when all of the pilgrims in our parish joined us and after the worship, many approached us crying that they really felt the Holy Spirit! I realized that God is really at work in our community! He is using our community to make Christ known, to make others feel the presence of God, to make them feel that they are loved by God. He is really faithful to us! God is at work in CFC FFL. Through these experiences, it made me bolder now when it comes to evangelization, especially to the program I am handling right now. I know God is with us!
Another striking moment for me in WYD was during the 1st day of catechesis. The topic was about “Thirst for hope,” and the message was very real for me. The call for me is to be a source of hope to other people, in my family, most especially, to my friends and to my community. A source of hope by sharing all my Jesus Christ experiences whenever and wherever I go.
I really thank God for these experiences. I never imagined that God has been faithful to me during my life as a missionary. He never fails in fulfilling His promises in His perfect time and ways. Now, I am very confident that God will always be with me even through the toughest times because God affirmed me that nothing is impossible with Him. And I know that our Mother Mary will always be with me. My heart is filled with great love and I will continue to share this to other people! I will make Christ known no matter what.