PRAYING with millions of Catholics in Krakow has reminded a group of young adults from St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, they are not alone in practising their faith.
Eleven young adults from the Cathedral Young Adult Movement returned from World Youth Day last month re-energised in their faith and prayer life.
Group member Olivia Ambrose said seeing the Catholic faith alive in Poland and being among the millions of young people from around the world “gathering together in the name of Jesus” strengthened her faith.
“Their faith encouraged me to deepen my faith in Jesus,” Ms Ambrose said.
She said the WYD, which drew on the theme of Divine Mercy, also deepened her understanding of God’s abundant mercy.
“WYD also has helped me to understand God’s abundant mercy towards us, and God’s mercy is freely given to us and I felt called to open my heart to receive it,” she said.
“It’s only in God’s mercy that I can be merciful to others – as Matthew 5:7 says, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy’.”
Alice Grogan said the highlight of her WYD experience was sitting on the shoulders of her brother, Joe, as Pope Francis passed by a crowd of young people.
“From the moment I saw his motorcade come around the corner, I was full of excitement,” Ms Grogan said. “The closer the Pope came to us, the louder the people became; it was like being lifted up on a cloud of euphoria.
“It was just so amazing to see one person can bring hope and happiness to so many people around the world. I will never forget seeing a living saint (Pope Francis) close in person.”
Reflecting on the year-long journey to WYD, YAM spiritual companion Canossian Sister Thao Nguyen said the young people’s desire to attend WYD was initially met with hardships.
“There were times we felt little hope of having even a few members going to the WYD pilgrimage,” Sr Nguyen said.
After numerous fundraising events, including a gala dinner, the parish eventually mustered enough donations to support 11 young people’s trip to Krakow.
“As we reflect about the beginning of our YAM journey to WYD 2016, we realised that the moment God put the desire in us to attend the WYD pilgrimage was the moment of grace because that was the moment God taught us to learn to trust and put our hope in God, and in that very moment, God drew us to God’s heart through the invitation to trust God,” Sr Nguyen said.
Sr Nguyen, who joined the Vinnies Youth Queensland WYD pilgrimage, said she felt a “vivid presence of God in humanity” during her Krakow journey.
“When one group sang or danced, all groups and people surrounding them joined in singing and dancing,” she said. “When one group started praying, others joined them.
“When a pilgrim suffered with the heat or became unwell, people came and offered help.
“Surrounded in the midst of kindness, love, care, prayer, unity and joyfulness of millions of people truly was the moment I experienced God’s vivid presence in humanity; the moments in which Christ united his people to himself as ‘One Body in Christ’.”
By Emilie Ng