World Youth Day is a global gathering where young people deepen their faith, experience the universality of the Catholic Church, and commit their lives to Christ alongside hundreds of thousands of like-minded peers.
There was a significant number from the Neocatechumenal Way community in Perth who would embark on the pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal including five students from Kolbe. These students would be led by Fr Victor, who celebrates weekly PC Masses at Kolbe. Year 10 student Gabriele recalls travelling to Madrid from Perth before heading to various significant religious sites in Spain and Portugal including El Escorial, Toledo, Segovia, Fatima and Lisbon.
“We drove in a big bus for 12 hours and reached Lisbon. Here the communities from Lisbon welcomed us and gave us a place to sleep. We visited Nazare, a famous beach where many miracles happened.” Year 10 student Gabriele
The journey included travelling great distances by plane, bus and by walking. In true pilgrimage style, they would share meals, celebrate Mass and share accommodation with Catholics from all over the world. Gabriele records the pinnacle of this experience,
“We finally arrived in our area and met two million other pilgrims from all over the world. The pope gave us Mass the next day and spoke to all the young people there. The next day we went to the meeting of Kiki Argueyo. Here, Pope Francis spoke to over 80,000 people and people were standing up to become priests, nuns and missionary families.”
“It was an amazing experience realising that you are not the only Catholic and that there are so many more people that believe in the same thing as I do. It was like a festival for Catholics.” – Year 11 student Sara
Gabriele says the highlight for him was visiting the Santiago De Compo Stella because it “marks the end of the Camino de Santiago and here people from all over the world come to look for their calling.” He reflected that this church was really important to someone that he cares about. Sara claims this to be the “best experience I have ever had” and that the pilgrimage has made her return to Australia happy and closer to God.
“It has made me so thankful to God and everyone around me”. – Sara
World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon has definitely left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of these young people. At the conclusion of the Mass, Pope Francis announced that the next World Youth Day would be held in Seoul, South Korea in 2027.