A few months prior to World Youth Day Poland, I watched my mom almost pass away right before my eyes and I had broken up with my boyfriend of 3 years to refocus on God. I had kept a strong faith and pushed through the trials that God has thrown in my path, but I also felt very jaded and gradually became more negative as World Youth Day approached. My prayer life dipped and I was filled with gut-wrenching anxiety of what was to come. Desperately trying to fight those feelings, I sought spiritual guidance from a priest and from my youth ministry. I had a muted excitement for WYD but there was a lingering emptiness and doubt that lay in my heart.
After the Los Angeles Diocese’s send-off mass, we were given My Saint My Hero prayer partner bracelets (WYD edition.) I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to give it away because I’d lack the ability to create a meaningful conversation or friendship with another pilgrim. Once we began our pilgrimage from Italy, to Germany, and at last Poland, I began to pray and meditate through the form of Lectio Divina. I opened my heart to whatever plans God had in store for me and truly tried to focus on what He wanted for me. In doing this, I later met two people who made a profound impression on me.
Thanks to the prayer partner bracelet I received (and the extra my chaperone had given me,) these are the two people I gave it away to: The first was to a nun from Sisters of Life. She was the most happiest and genuine sister I had ever come across. Her love and dedication to God was something inspiring and further inspired me to pursue Him by any means necessary. The second, was a friend I made from Australia. We met, thinking we’d just trade pins and move on, but later had two more chance encounters. I believe that God does everything for a reason and we remain friends even after World Youth Day. He is a refreshing reminder to stay passionate and open about our Catholic faith.
Coming back from World Youth Day has truly transformed me (as a pilgrimage should.) It was refreshing and beautiful to experience the love of God working through millions.
– Inah Marie