I'M GOING TO WYD PANAMA!
I am a man upon whom fortune truly shines brightly. Like moths to a flame, pilgrimages seem drawn to me...or me to them. As is evident from my previous posts, I have been on a few pilgrimages in my lifetime. It all started in 2008, when I was only 16, and decided to attend World Youth Day in Sydney. It was happening only an hour away from my parish by train, so there was really no excuse not to go. I had an incredible experience that I will never forget, and ever since then I've been hooked by my experience of the universal Church gathering together to celebrate our common faith and love for Christ.
A few years later, in 2010, I managed to get involved in what was called the "WYD Internship Program" run by my own Broken Bay Diocese. The idea of this program was to recruit young people into active ministry roles within the Church, at a minimum of 10-15 hours per week, with the eventual payoff of an all expenses paid pilgrimage journey to Spain WYD in 2011. This idea was particularly compelling, as I knew I would be freshly turning 18, and I had a growing hunger to see the world. This program was one of the major reasons I got involved in youth ministry, serving Mass, volunteering at the parish soup kitchen, assisting in the RCIA, running fundraisers for the parish, and so on. I didn't really know it at the time, but that experience truly lit a fire within me, one that has been burning ever since. That fire was the Holy Spirit coming alive in my life, and ultimately became the force that compelled me to join the seminary.
In Venice before heading to Krakow WYD in 2016
In 2013, I found myself heading to Brazil for another incredible WYD experience, only to follow that up again two years later at WYD in Poland. As I matured in age and my spiritual life, these events became increasingly powerful. They were never for me the source or origin of my Catholic faith, but they always acted as a catalyst for spiritual consolations. I became increasingly aware of the power of the Holy Spirit acting upon the universal Church and was exposed to the physical manifestation of the mystical body of Christ gathered together in worship and celebration.
At the base of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero in 2013
Then last year, in 2017, I went to Spain for the second time to walk the Camino de Santiago. That was an absolutely life-changing the experience. Something that I find very difficult to put into words. On that journey I came to understand myself, my brothers, my close friends, and my faith in ways theretofore unknown to me. I truly believe that the Catholic tradition of pilgrimage is a pearl of great price that needs to be regarded more highly and appreciated better by all the faithful. Unfortunately, it was an incredibly exhausting month of walking, and I never had the energy to sit down and blog the experience. The best I can offer you is a link to my YouTube channel, to which I uploaded short videos daily, documenting the scenery and steps along the way.
On the Camino de Santiago in 2017
I am now finishing my third year in the seminary and preparing to go on a one-month pastoral placement up until Christmas time. However, in January, I have been given the immense privilege of, once again, accompanying by brothers and sisters of Broken Bay Diocese to WYD in Panama. First off we are going to fly to Mexico to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, after which we will head to Panama for the major event. I am going to refrain from providing too many details now, as I hope they will provide the source material for my future writings on this subject. Until then, I ask for your prayers in this time, both for this pilgrimage and my ongoing journey towards priesthood.