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By APRIL REYES
April, 26, is an Australian-born Filipino whose parents migrated to Sydney from Lucena in the early 70s. She has two younger sisters and works for a telecommunications company. April hopes to go to her second WYD in Germany. She and her family have been parishioners of St Charles Borromeo, Ryde, for nearly nine years. Among other activities there, she’s involved in the ‘night patrol,’ feeding Sydney's homeless.
I remember when I decided that I was going to World Youth Day (WYD) to be held in Toronto, Canada, in July 2002. Friends had recently returned from WYD Rome, August 2000, and were truly moved by their experience.
I wasn’t quite sure what it was that touched them, but I wanted to be a part of it.
Arriving in Toronto on the first day of WYD week was overwhelming. Never had I seen so many young Catholics; we had taken over the city! It was awesome to see so many fellow Aussies there – especially given the distance we had traveled to get there and the small population base that we have, twenty million. There was plenty of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.’
Through the course of that week, I met and shared life and faith with existing and new friends. The time just flew by, it was packed with so much activity.
The real highlight for me was WYD itself, the culmination of the week’s events through the celebration of Sunday morning Mass with the Pope. We had camped out the night before with hundreds of thousands of others, got rained upon and then woke the next morning to celebrate the Eucharist together! The sun came through the clouds just as Mass was commencing. We were all tuned in by radio to hear the Pope’s homily in many languages – his message inspired me.
I was overwhelmingly proud to be a young Catholic, and that very feeling is something I have continued to carry with me. I came home to Sydney moved by my own WYD experience.
Do I know now what it is that touched me and many pilgrims before me? Yes.
We thank Catholic Weekly, http://www.catholicweekly.com.au , the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Sydney.
You may contact April Reyes at firstname.lastname@example.org