Closing Mass With Papa

After the Vigil, we got some rest under the stars, but to our surprise, we were awakened by blaring music and voices shouting for all of us to get up. Morning Mass was coming soon. We ate some food from our food bags and then entered into the Holy Mass led by Papa Francesco himself. He gave us a powerful message that we are not only the future, we are the NOW. We also found out that the next World Youth Day will be held in… PORTUGAL! After concluding Mass, we departed once again on our 9.3

mile hike. We had the opportunity to spend time with a less fortunate family in the neighborhoods of Panama City, and they even held their own little party for us on the side of the street. It opened our eyes when they came bearing gifts for us although they didn’t have much to give besides a joyful and welcoming heart. Overall, it was an incredible journey and we are so thankful for all of your blessings and support!

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To The Vigil We Go

After the conclusion of Morning Mass, we set out to take our hike that we knew full well would be difficult. With bags on our backs, we began our own version of the Way of the Cross. After miles of talking, laughing, and singing Christmas carols to think cool thoughts, we arrived at our destination. Our bodies were exhausted, but we were greeted by the sounds of cheering and singing. Although it was loud and chaotic, we really enjoyed our night. Pope Francis led us all in Adoration, an adoration so silent you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was united under the influence of One Spirit, One Body in Christ. Then, we prayed the Rosary and showed our adoration towards Mary Our Mother. All the while, we grew in our love of Christ and others. We traded lots, met new friends from all over the globe, and let the Holy Spirit work its magic in our hearts.

Pilgrimage Vigil

The height of World Youth Day is the walking pilgrimage, to the all night vigil. After praying the Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis last night, today we walk, in a sense, our way of the cross. It is a 9.3 mile hike to the vigil site and the day will be hot and humid with no shade. It will be difficult and filled with obstacles, but many graces will flow from trusting in God to be our strength.

Pope Francis will join us at the Vigil, which is the pinnacle of World Youth Day, for a time of Prayer and Adoration. In the morning, he will be

returning to celebrate the Closing Mass with us and announce the site of the next World Youth Day.

Welcoming Ceremony with Pope Francis

As we stood talking to some people from another country, waiting by the road the Pope would take to the Welcoming Ceremony, anticipation was growing and there was a feeling of excitement around us. When he passed by, the joy was overwelming. It was beautiful to feel so united in that joy and I will never forget that experience. Seeing Pope Francis bridged the gap of differences between the unique cultures and brought everyone together. We could feel the happiness of every person at World Youth Day. An experience like that leaves you in awe. That awe makes the youth of the world feel closer to God and we want to help spread the Word to every corner of the earth. The experience was truly incredible. Our faith is one of ENCOUNTER. Pope Francis, moreover, Jesus Christ, calls us to be the change our world is in such dire need of. If we put our beliefs into action, hearts throughout the world will surely be transformed. We also met many other youth from all around the world. Some group member became good friends with an Australian named Jack while others became friends with a New Yorker named Julius Ceasar and a sloth named Juan. We made these new friends through the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God Bless You All!

First Full Day of World Youth Day

This morning we walked 4 miles to join other English speaking pilgrims for a Catechetical lesson from an Archbishop from Australia. He encouaraged us with this beautiful teaching: God is our strength. To answer God’s call in your life, don’t give God your triumphs and trophies, give him your tears and trajedies. Let God be your strength. When we are weak, we become strong in God – 2 Cor 12:11 It turned out to be a very long day. We were tired, but we offered it up to God. We continue to pray for you, and continue to pray for us as we will soon be seeing the Pope!

After a very steamy metro and bus ride, we made our way to the other side of the city for an English speaking youth festival with great music, encouraging faith testimonials, and more uplifting talks from American Bishops, Bishop Burns and Bishop Caggiano.