World Youth Day Pilgrimage: Tough Yet Uplifting

WYD 2011

A couple of good friends and I felt it would be a great ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to experience World Youth Day in Madrid. Hearing that a religious order called the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE for short) was offering a World Youth Day pilgrimage travelling to Portugal, France, and Spain for a month, we eagerly signed up. During our stay, our group of about 300 which included youth, many sisters, brothers, and priests indeed lived the pilgrim life.

Being able to adapt to living in gyms, monasteries, and even a Spanish military base was tough at first, but being a high spirited group who spent the days singing and chanting, we were able to enjoy from start to end. The religious encouraged and expected us youth to live as “super pilgrims.” This role integrated the 3 pilgrim P’s: 1. to be prayerful, 2. to do penance (offering up any inconvenience we may experience and acting positively), and 3. participating throughout the whole pilgrimage.

The cities, sites, and especially the churches and cathedrals we visited were incredibly stunning! Both the artwork and design of the churches, as well as gusto with which we all engaged mass made the experience breathtaking. Such amazing places included Fatima, Santiago de Compostela, Covadonga, Burgos, Lourdes, Manresa, Barbastro, and ultimately Madrid! Being in the presence of history itself, as well as within a prayerful atmosphere, allowed us to fully express our firmness in the faith and our foundation which is Christ; the very theme for this year’s World Youth Day! And at last, spending our final week at Days in the Dioceses and our final days with the Popetopped up our whole adventure. I myself am more than joyful and grateful that I was able to participate in this tough yet uplifting experience.
Reflection by Mark Pablo,
Faith Connections Participant