By Carmen F. Aguinaco
In many parts of the world, many young people were preparing both spiritually and materially to attend World Youth Day (WYD), in Río de Janeiro. But some of those who didn´t have to make the trip made a strong and deep inner journey. There are young people in Brazil who were praying day and night, for two years, and will continue to do so for the fruits of this great event after it has concluded.
Responding to the question about the meaning of life will, undoubtedly, be the great fruit of WYD for those who achieve it. But it also has to do with the sense of sending forth. The theme of WYD, which gathered more than one million young people from all over the world, was “Go and make disciples of all nations;” in other words, that young people be the evangelists of young people. According to the WYD official website, the theme seeks to generate in the heart of every young pilgrim the desire to let the light of Christ dissipate the darkness of fear and doubts that paralyze. It encourages young people to be missionaries, even in situations of conflict, in countries where Christians are persecuted or amid a secularized world that does not want to live Christian values.
This year, as occurred in Madrid to a lesser degree, WYD took place in the midst of a serious social conflict in the streets of Brazil’s most important cities. Brazilian bishops encouraged participants to live the missionary commitment in solidarity and compassion toward those who have fair questions about their society and future.
As in previous WYD events, the schedule was tight: catechesis, social action, performances and celebrations, and the traditional Way of the Cross. And, the culminating event, the youth encounter with Pope Francis, the vigil and nocturnal worship, and the final Eucharist sending them forth.
In this WYD, there were very significant patrons, who led young people to deepen their sense of mission. It was a long list of saints, many of them young, who were presented as role models and inspiration for the mission: Our Lady of Aparecida, patroness of Brazil; St. Sebastian, soldier of the Emperor Diocletian and martyr; St. Anthony from Santana Galvão, first Brazilian saint; St. Therese of Lisieux; Blessed John Paul II, creator of World Youth Day; St. Rose of Lima, first saint of America; Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, young Italian who gave his life for the poor; Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, who offered her cancer for the salvation of others; Blessed Frederick Ozanam, a father of a family; Blessed Adilio Daronch, 16-yearold Brazilian martyr; Blessed José de Anchieta, missionary in Brazil; Blessed Isidore Bakanja, martyr from Congo; Blessed Sister Irma Dulce, Brazilian nun dedicated to the poor; Blessed Laura Vicuña, a Chilean; St. Andrew Kim, Korean martyr; and Blessed Albertina Berkenbrock, a Brazilian who was murdered at the age of 12.
Many young people have found the living Christ in a WYD. Surely many did so this year, not just in Brazil, but among those who followed the events through the media and local diocesan celebrations around the world. And many will also find their calling.
Which saint or person do you know that could be a role model in your relationship with God?
Celebrating 10 years of service to Hispanic youth!