World Youth Day 2019: What will I find?

“Days in the diocese” in Murcia, Spain.

by Olivia Martin

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about Spain.

In particular, I’ve been reminiscing about attending World Youth Day (WYD) in Madrid in 2011, my first time travelling abroad.

My mom and I went after months of saving, fundraising and planning. We were ecstatic to experience a different country, meet new people, see the pope (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the time) and bask in the glory and energy of being surrounded by 1.5 million young Catholics.

I see now that attending World Youth Day was a decisive moment for my life. 

It has influenced my faith, what I’ve studied, the languages I speak, who my friends are, where I’ve lived and where I work. I even met my college roommate at WYD, who I also currently live with. 

And what has me thinking about WYD now is simple: I am preparing to go again.

This time, I’ll be representing The Leaven and working as an official WYD volunteer in Panama City, Panama, Jan. 22-27, 2019.

Sadly, I won’t be able to bring my mom with me or my best friends, but I will be bringing joyful expectation to encounter Christ again.

I am full of anticipation to really become involved in the fibers of WYD. As a volunteer, I will be able to give in my limited capacities in a tangible way that point to the deeper work in which Christ invites us to participate — to witness to the fact that he is present and incarnates the answer to the deepest needs of our hearts.

I also feel immensely privileged to be at WYD at this point in history, marked by pain, scandal of abuse, skepticism of authority and questions surrounding the credibility of the church. I want to go deeper and learn what is happening in this reality. 

Preparing for this work and for the people I will encounter is provoking me to stay in front of two questions my friends and I have been working on:

Is the church (with all its many failings) truly the prolongation of Christ?

What can make the church credible before our eyes and the eyes of others?

There’s no easy, pre-packaged answer to these questions, but I will certainly engage them well into the new year (and hopefully for the rest of my life). WYD will help me do that.

I ask for your prayers in my preparation for WYD 2019 and for all who will come.

And, remember, keep your eyes peeled for my adventures at WYD in The Leaven!

 

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