We started our day by joining hundreds of English speaking pilgrims for catechesis. It was slightly different to previous catechesis days that I have experienced at WYD as we were first given questions and immediately moved into small groups for discussion, afterwards Bishop Mark Stuart Edwards (from the Diocese of Wagga Wagga) gathered the thoughts and presented his own ideas building upon all that he had heard. He gave us the image of the disciples in the upper room, terrified and hiding until the power of the Holy Spirit comforted them, and transformed them into the apostles that we know. Just being in the room, the excitement and energy to go out and rejoice was tangible.
From here, we went out rejoicing and full of energy to welcome the Pope as he arrived in Lisbon. We set out with haste and found a good spot in the shade of some trees with a good view over our fellow pilgrims, the papal route and the big screen keeping us in touch with what was happening up at the front. Then the moment came after hours of waiting! Photo opportunities were taken, or missed and we all shared in the excitement of welcoming Pope Francis to World Youth Day 2023.
After his lap of honour (which Beti managed to get a front row picture for – see photo below) we all sat down and waited eagerly for his address, he didn’t disappoint. He spoke beautifully of how God does not simply call us automatically, but that God calls us by name. He means that our calling is not simply one that disregards where we have been and where we are going. Neither does it mean that God is disinterested in us, but loves us because we are created by God. Instead, to be called by name is to recognise our own uniqueness but not only this. The recognise our calling is to recognise that we are welcome. Handing over to Pope Francis for some last words, he summed this up by saying that ‘because of this uniqueness, in the Church there is room for everyone just as we are… everyone, everyone, EVERYONE!
Matthew Janvier O.Carm