Thursday, August 1, 2013

After 24 hours of travelling by plane and by bus, we finally made it back home this morning!

We left our hotel at 10 am Rio time yesterday, and we arrived at the Ottawa international airport at 9 am this morning. We flew from Rio to Sao Paulo and took a one-hour shuttle bus from the domestic airport to the international one! We were delighted to see Marc Cardinal Ouellet waiting for our same flight from Sao Paulo to Toronto - our overnight flight. We had to go through security three times: in Rio, in Sao Paulo, and in Toronto, because of immigration. Most of us came home with a cold, and some of us still have indigestion, and we are all tired from the lack of sleep, but we made it back home safely without any delays! My umbrella that I got in Rio didn't make it back safely though. I couldn't bring it on the plane, so the airport staff taped it to my luggage and put it in a plastic bag and wrapped more tape, but the umbrella still came back bent in a few places, so I had to throw it out.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Testimonies / Témoignages

These are some testimonies from a few of our WYD pilgrims:

Summing up World Youth Day in a few short sentences is difficult! It's been an amazing few weeks filled with life changing experiences. Top one would have to be seeing Pope Francis. It's the first time I've seen any pope, definitely a dream come true! During Mission Week prior to WYD in Rio, our group was asked to provide an hour of worship music and readings for adoration.  It was fun practicing and playing together, also watching people enter into prayer with Jesus through our worship was a blessing. One of the days in Rio, a few of us went up to see Christ the Redeemer statue in the early morning. Fellow pilgrim Jonathan Roy proposed to Alice De Roth just as the sun was rising! Such an amazing moment!

As I head back home after these few weeks of pilgrimage, I will be taking back with me the message of faith, hope, and most especially the enthusiasm and zeal for the Church that I've seen here with more than three million young Catholics gathered together from all around the world. 

God bless,
Erin Humphrey


WYD 2013 in Rio was actually my third World Youth Day. With that experience in hand, I've learned that it's better not to have too many set expectations for this massive pilgrimage. That being said, I found that WYD in Rio managed to surprise me in many ways. For instance, I definitely did not expect the closing Mass site to be moved because the original site was flooded. Of course, some of these developments, such as the rainy weather for much of the week and a chaotic transportation system, were disappointing. But this is not a vacation! This is a pilgrimage, and curve balls are part of the whole experience - not to mention that they are an opportunity for us to grow in certain virtues, such as patience. To be sure, there were some high points as well. The catechesis sessions were amazing, and of course it helped that they were in English, a welcome respite from the Portuguese-speaking Brazilian world. Indeed, one of the biggest culture shocks for me was actually Holy Mass, as in Brazilian it seems to be mostly a loud, long celebration. For me, not having some quieter moments as well as understanding very little that was going on was definitely a struggle, so to be part of a Mass that was much more comfortable for me was welcome. That being said, it was quite a special moment to be able to go to Mass at Copacabana Beach twice, both times receiving Communion. I could go on and on about all the highs and lows of WYD, but that would be quite the novel. All in all, I am happy to have been part of this World Youth Day and of the second-largest closing Mass in WYD history at 3.2 million people!

God Bless,
Nicolas Church 


Les JMJ à Rio de Janeiro ont été différentes de mes trois dernières JMJ à Madrid, à Sydney et à Cologne. Les journées en mission avec les Oblats à Aparecida nous ont permis d'animer l'adoration pour des centaines de jeunes de partout autour du monde! Ce fut une expérience inoubliable! À Rio, nous étions bénis que le Pape François passe devant notre hôtel en voiture tous les jours. Les catéchèses auxquelles nous avions assistés étaient très enrichissantes et le sacrement de réconciliation très profond pour moi! J'ai aimé pouvoir rester à la vigile toute la soirée, particulièrement parce que le lieu avait changé à la dernière minute et on ne savait pas si on pouvait rester la nuit jusqu'au soir-même! 

Sarah Du Broy


WYD in Rio was an experience to remember! First of all, my boyfriend's proposal at the foot of Christ the Redeemer will be engraved in my memories forever!
Second, I was able to see the Pope up close, from a few feet away, not once, but three times! Each time was special and powerful! "Papa Francisco", as they lovingly call him, has such a genuine smile, filled with tenderness and humility. The crowds were running after his Popemobile to get just one more glimpse of His Holiness.
What I will take home from this first WYD is the joy I felt of being able to openly, freely and proudly celebrate and rejoice in my Catholic faith with millions of young people and finally not feel like the minority, but the majority!  Every single person I met was a testimony of faith to me and has re-invigorated my faith, my hope and my love for God. 

Alice De Roth

Sunday, July 28, 2013

La messe à la plage Copacabana avec le Pape François et trois millions de jeunes!

Ce matin, le plus grand rassemblement de gens sur la plage Copacabana à Rio de Janeiro, au Brésil a eu lieu en honneur de la messe du Pape François pour les Journées mondiales de la jeunesse.

Le pape à donné son homélie en espagnol et nous a dit d'être des disciples partout où on est en tout temps et de communiquer la miséricorde et l'amour de Jésus. Il prie qu'on ait une force renouvellée et de partir en mission pour évangéliser les autres jeunes.

Jésus était un homme comme nous. Il nous accompagne toujours et il nous envoie son Esprit Saint. Les Journées mondiales de la jeunesse sont seulement une étape sur le chemin ; il faut continuer de puiser plus loin.

La vie de Jésus est une vie de service. Évangéliser signifie servir et être des témoins. Celui qui évangélise est évangélisé. Jésus détruit la barrière de l'égoïsme. L'Église compte sur nous et le pape compte sur nous. Nous devons apporter la Bonne Nouvelle à tous les peuples.

Vigil at Copacabana Beach with Pope Francis

Last night's prayer vigil changed locations to Copacabana Beach because the field where we were supposed to sleep was flooded and there was damage to the structure. Even yesterday, it was unsure if  we could sleep at the vigil on the beach because of the protests and the tide of the ocean. We were blessed to be able to sleep in our sleeping bags on the beach.

Pope Francis arrived in his pope mobile, but he took time to kiss babies and children with autism, and to shake people's hands. He even got out of his pope mobile and walked on the street! He really is a pope for the people, especially for the youth!

At the vigil, Pope Francis told us that to be missionaries, we have to have a relationship with Jesus, ask him questions, and have conversations with him.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cardinal Sean O'Malley's catechetical session on mission

This morning, at the Vivo Rio Centre, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, Capuchin Franciscan Archbishop of Boston, gave a catechetical session on mission.

He explained that the new evangelization is about being a missionary at home, where people know about Christianity, but don't want to practise the faith. It's much more difficult to evangelize to these people than to bring the Gospel to those who had never heard it before. 

People receiving the Gospel message for the first time have a sense of amazement. In our own countries, it's harder to do because the attitude is "been there, done that".

Once we have been evangelized, we are called to be evangelizers. On Holy Thursday, Jesus gave us a new commandment - to love one another the way that he has loved us, and this is the way that people will know that we are His disciples. We need to have fraternity and friendship Amon ourselves. 

Jesus loves us first and He wants us to love others first, to forgive first and to extend ourselves first. We shouldn't wait for others to love us for us love them. 

To do this, Jesus gives us a gift to strengthen us to live out this command - the Eucharist.

Jesus commands us to love, but he also gives us the sacrament to love. 

At the Ascension, Jesus also gives us the command of commissioning - to go in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to live out this command.

Everything that we are and everything that we have is a gift and Jesus wants to give us so much more - He wants to give us himself. Our task is to help people reconnect with God through the intercession of saints.

We need to have mercy and compassion to be good evangelizers, and reach out to those in need who are spiritually poor, spiritually sick, and spiritually abandoned.  Just as we need to help people in their material needs, we need to help them spiritually and have that same sense of urgency. It's our love for Christ and for others that motivates us.

Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations and to invite people to be part of his family. Through World Youth Day, Pope Francis and the entire Christian community commission us to go and share the Good News.

Cardinal O'Malley reminded us that to be good evangelizers, we first need to have our own conversion as our actions of love speak louder than words, then we need to learn more about our faith to be able to explain it in the light of reason, and finally, we need to share our faith with others as we are our brother's and sister's keeper. We have the secret to eternal life and to the greatest problems in life, and we need to share that secret with others.
Cardinal O'Malley said that most of us are called to marriage and we need to avoid the trap of cohabitation. People who live together before they get married have twice as many chances of ending up divorced than couples who live together after they're married.

When choosing a spouse, we should pray that the Holy Spirit guide our choice and to help us marry the right person, for the Holy Spirit to make that person right for us and for us to be right for that person. We need to have the same faith and mission to share Christ's love with others, and we need to be open to having children. 

Priests and religious also need to have a missionary heart and learn to love others, especially the young people by attending WYD! Jesus needs us to reach others for Him.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nous avons vu Pape François!

Ce soir, nous sommes allés à la plage Copacabana pour l'accueil du pape et nous l'avions vu passer dans le papemobil et quand nous sommes retournés à notre hôtel, il y avait des barrières et des gardes de sécurité, donc nous savions que Pape François allait passer et nous l'avions attendu et il a passé en voiture juste devant nous! 

Nous  sommes tellement bénis de l'avoir vu de si proche, même si la voiture passait tellement rapidement! Jonathan a pris un vidéo et c'est beaucoup mieux que les photos que nous avions essayé de prendre. 

Go and make disciples of all nations

This morning, Archbishop Mark Coleridge  from Brisbane, Australia gave a catechetical session on the theme of WYD 2013 - Go and make disciples of all nations. 

He explained that we as Catholics are called to be disciples, but unfortunately, most Catholics are not disciples, they're baptized pagans. People who choose to follow Jesus are called disciples. 

For a Jew to choose a rabbi, in the Old Testament, it means that he is the person's teacher and master, and there is a total surrender of the disciple to the rabbi! This is hard for us to understand in today's culture to surrender ourselves totally - mind, body and soul, but this is what we are called to do as disciples.

The master has to ask questions to his disciples and they have to ask him questions. It's very interactive. 

The rabbi had a community of disciples and we are also called to be in a community of discipleship. Our presence here at WYD is our engagement to be disciples, and it's a commitment for life!

The difference is that, in the first instance,  we don't choose Jesus as our master and teacher - he chooses us.

We are called to draw all people and nations to Jesus, not for ourselves, but for Jesus.

Christianity is not about moralism, it's not just about imitating Jesus. We're talking about Jesus who was crucified and was risen - he's not just a role model - his presence and power transform our whole  life. That's what he's here to do and wants to do. 

Christianity is not, in any conventional sense, a religion. It's an encounter. When you meet Jesus, you see the truth of who you are and you see the truth of who God is! The Gospel is an experience of amazement! This experience is the heart of Christian discipleship. 

If you commit your life to Jesus, you don't lose anything, but rather gain everything. 

Take the risk, say yes to Him, and you will be rewarded in ways beyond understanding.