WORLD Youth Day was the greatest experience of my life to date.
The atmosphere, the people and the excitement made the experience one that I will never forget.
I decided to make the pilgrimage to World Youth Day as I saw it as a great opportunity to see the world, meet its people and at the same time deepen my understanding of the Catholic faith.
Before departing to Cologne I hoped to meet new people, become better educated about the world and its many and diverse cultures and to see a side of Catholicism that I had never witnessed before.
After 20 hours of flying I finally made it to Germany and the fun really started.
One of the many highlights for me throughout the week was getting to the opening Mass.
Although this sounds like a fairly straightforward operation, it wasn’t.
After lining up at the train station for an hour and a half we finally boarded a train and got to the stadium an hour later to find that it had been closed as it was already full, and then had to come all the way back home again.
Although this doesn’t sound too much like a highlight, the people we met, talked to and shared laughs with was unbelievable.
Another personal highlight was the pilgrimage to Cologne Cathedral, or the Dom, as it is called.
Going to the Dom consisted of a pilgrimage walk followed by a self-guided tour inside the Dom itself.
Along the walk was a series of reflective quotes.
These quotes really made me think about how I lived my life and how I treated others around me.
At the end of this walk I entered the cathedral from the front and did a self-guided tour looking at the shrine of the Magi, praying at other shrines throughout the cathedral and I lit a candle on my way out.
World Youth Day has changed my life in many ways.
It lived up to and exceeded all my expectations.
There was never a dull moment and the masses were more exciting and engaging than what I have experienced in the past.
I have learnt to see the good in everything and gained a greater understanding of the world and the cultures within it, helping me to accept everyone for who they are.
Also I have grown spiritually and have learned to see God in everyone and everything.
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