"At World Youth Day, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world were speaking many different languages as we worshipped together. It made me think of the first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles to proclaim the message of God in numerous languages."
Parishioner, Paul Rubio, attended World Youth Day 2019 in January and shares his experience of that time with us we reflect on yesterday - Pentecost Sunday. Paul’s picture was taken by Brett Driscoll at Metro Park in Panama City, Panama, before the start of the overnight vigil, just minutes after Pope Francis passed by in the Popemobile.
Attending World Youth Day 2019 in Panama City, Panama, was an opportunity to see people from all over the world coming together as One Church that is catholic, or universal.
One profound memory I have is from January 26, when we journeyed to the site of the Overnight Vigil and Closing Mass. As we pilgrims walked along Avenida Guillermo E. Quijano, a mostly residential street, people came out in front of their houses to wave and cheer at us. I was floored by such a warm reception. We cheerfully returned the warm greetings. Pilgrims were waving the flags of their countries. I had two small flags, for the US and for Illinois, and waved them as a way to express who I am, just as the others waved theirs to express who they are, while all together, we celebrated our shared faith. The scene brought to mind the quotation attributed to St. Catherine of Siena, “The journey to Heaven is Heaven itself”, and I sure felt like I was in Heaven walking along that street.
Later that day, I had the chance of a lifetime when Pope Francis whizzed by me about 15 feet away. I’m pretty certain that, for about 2-3 seconds, we made eye contact. As amazing as it was to see Pope Francis up close, it was just as amazing to sense the presence of the apostles in the successor of St. Peter, recognizing how the Church, bestowed by Christ, has been handed down throughout the centuries, a truly apostolic Church.
It was awesome spending time in prayer with the Holy Father, and to hear his words of insight to encourage and inspire us in faith and our call to be a Holy Church. At the closing Mass, he urged us, the youth of the Church, to not think of ourselves as the future, but the church of now, encouraging us to say “Yes” like Mary did, who was the World Youth Day theme.
At World Youth Day, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world were speaking many different languages as we worshipped together. It made me think of the first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles to proclaim the message of God in numerous languages.
Before returning to the United States, I attended Mass in the Tocumen Airport chapel, celebrated in Spanish by a bishop emeritus who gave the homily in German, which was translated by another priest into Portuguese. When the Eucharistic prayer began, and I prayed in English, with others in the Chapel praying in different languages, it dawned on me that I was likely the only native English speaker among the approximately two dozen people attending Mass. We spoke in our own languages and prayed as One Church.
In so many ways, attending World Youth Day was truly a picture of Heaven on Earth.