Flashes of Light: The SSpS Missionaries at WYD
Our Sisters from Portugal took an active part in World Youth Day, which was held from 1 to 6 August in Lisbon, with around 1.5 million people taking part.
In this article, they share their experience and how they were touched by the joy of young people from all over the world and the charismatic presence of Pope Francis.
The Process that Brought Us to Bethlehem, Lisbon
The Vocational Fair was the final goal, the result of a PROCESS that led us to a significant conclusion. The starting point of this path is found in the concern of how to present ourselves as the Arnoldus Family at WYD. This concern was the starting point, launching the challenge of thinking, planning and implementing successively together.
The process included several face-to-face and online meetings and meetings between the SVD, the SSpS and the representative of the Dialogue Group. We brought some young people into the process to see things from their point of view. This helped us filter out what was not relevant. In the meetings and in the WhatsApp group, ideas were shared, suggestions were made, controversies were raised, ideas gave rise to other ideas, and in the end a meaningful project was outlined. Everyone contributed to putting the plan into action.
The WYD organizers had explicitly recommended not to use paper, so that the event would be more respectful of the environment. We immediately considered digital alternatives. Thus, we decided to create a blog that would serve as a gateway to all other web pages of the SVD, the SSpS and the Dialogue Group.
Everything worked very smoothly so that each one’s contribution was like a drop of water which filled the ocean. Without the ideas of each one, the links in the chain would not have been possible and we would not have reached our destination: the Belém Professional Fair, in Lisbon. In the process, we discovered the skills and talents of our brothers and sisters in the Arnoldus family and also experienced that when we work together we can complement each other and create something more innovative and beautiful.
We went through difficulties to launch this project together, but we also came to more fully appreciate everything we achieved. Thanks to the entire team for their commitment and dedication during all this time of preparation.
God loves everyone
Sr. Ana Victoria, SSpS
I participated in WYD-Lisbon 2023 as a volunteer. I was especially touched by the message of Pope Francis:
“God loves us, just as we are, and not as we would like to be. God loves everyone.”
The passion and vitality of young people
Sr. Dominia, SSpS
This was the first time that I had the opportunity to participate in the World Youth Festival. I was struck by the heartfelt passion and vitality that young people feel for the faith, a faith which infects others. This vitality reminds me of Pope Francis’ words to us:
“We were all called and loved by God even when we were sinners. Do not be afraid, you must be courageous to preach the Gospel”.
Do Not Be Afraid
Sr. Martha, SSpS
WYD was worth participating in and I’m glad I went to this event. At first, I didn’t want to go because I had almost no motivation. But blessed is the hour in which I heard the star of hope without fear, in my pilgrim’s shoes.
Celebrating the faith with all the young people who participated in Lisbon, city of fraternity and dreams, I experienced something indescribable that marked me and challenged me to build a more fraternal world in a Church without doors.
I share with you some echoes of the words of Pope Francis to us there:
“In fact, a Church is like a portico in which everyone must have a place to be heard. A portico in which everyone can rest in the painful walk of life to enter through the door, which is Jesus.”
On the banks of the Tagus we celebrated the Eucharist with Pope Francis and the most spoken language was joy, peace and unity.
“Do not be afraid, have courage, go forward knowing that we are protected by the love of God. God loves us”.
For me, this trip has been wonderful and it will always remain in my heart.
I have felt that God has been walking among us.
“Joy Is Missionary”
Sr. Delia, SSpS
At WYD I have lived an experience full of joy. I can say that joy radiated at all times. I am convinced that all the young people who have lived this joy returned to their countries as joyful and experiential witnesses of their faith in today’s world.
To participate in WYD was a grace that I received with joy.
An Unforgettable Experience
Sr. Vanina, SSpS
World Youth Day is an event to which Pope Francis summoned us in Panama, and summoned us to Portugal (Lisbon). This invitation has been a universal call for everyone.
From the first moment I felt that there was a place for me. If I have to highlight the most significant part of this experience, I can say that everything I lived during this time has been recorded in my heart as something indelible, charged with intensity, and difficult to explain. As the young people often say: “you have to live it/experience it, you don’t know how to explain it”.
I lived the previous days as a mere spectator, but WYD 2023 in Lisbon was more than that. I accepted the challenge of being a volunteer, a role that is not easy, because it is a challenge to set out to meet each pilgrim. But it was also an opportunity to give my best and place my talents at the service of others.
When I look back now at these intense days, the image that comes to mind is that of a bridge. I wanted to experience volunteer service in this way: to be a bridge and build bridges, so that many may meet Jesus. Love shortens the distance, there are no differences or geographical borders… we are one in HIM.
Gratitude: “Be Thankful”
Sr. Maria Mendes, SSpS
The Vocation Fair was an enriching opportunity, a unique experience of joy, sharing and gratitude. I believe that joy is also the fruit of gratitude. It was very beautiful to see the communion between so many young people from all over the world, celebrating their faith, and above all, a very personal encounter with the Lord who loves us all without distinction.
In our store “The Arnoldus Family “, the young pilgrims found a welcoming, shared, lively atmosphere and information about our charism and spirituality. For four days, many young people passed through the store. We were impressed by their faith and their desire to acquire more information about our Congregations. It was impressive to meet young people from other cultures and to be able to share the same faith in moments of fraternal communion as members of the same Church.
In the tent we created an atmosphere of joy and communion, as the Arnoldus family, sharing joy with songs, dances, photos and messages that we transmitted. The Arnoldus family tent was filled with gratitude and love. We all expressed the enthusiasm and joy of living our vocation as consecrated religious.
The sparkle in the eyes of each young person comes, without a doubt, from their enthusiasm, dedication and generosity when it comes to bearing witness to their faith.
The beauty of living the faith in an environment of diversity is a magnificent experience where one realizes that the Church is still alive in young people.
We all experienced the joy of being surrounded by young people. We created a “very dynamic” environment. Although we were tired, we did not stop singing and participating with joy. As Pope Francis says, “joy is missionary, so we have to carry this joy with us”.
“You Always Receive more than You Give”
Sr. Manju, SSpS
Participating in WYD was a privilege that I will never forget. The experience of those days continues to live in my heart. For example, the well-prepared catechesis, the Stations of the Cross representing current realities of our world, the silent vigil and the message of Pope Francis to young people in the Eucharist of the sending forth, urging them to shine, welcome and not be afraid.
I have seen another world, a world with great enthusiasm to walk, with great joy to share the faith and with great enthusiasm to serve others. At WYD I lived a very beautiful ecclesial experience, in which I was able to participate with the young people and with those responsible for youth vocation ministry.
Spain – Portugal Region