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“As soon as Mary knew she was going to be the Mother of God, she didn’t stay there taking a selfie or showing off ... the first thing she did was to set out on a journey, in haste, to serve, to help. You too have to learn from her to set out on a journey to help others” – Pope Francis.
As 1.5 million young Catholics made their way to the World Youth Day events in Lisbon from all over the world with Pope Francis, the Assumption Youth Team UK banded together with Pax Christi, CAFOD and the Sion Community to celebrate with young people in the heart of London, in Notre Dame de France Church. It was a day rejoicing in our faith, filled with music, praise, prayers, and endless amounts of encouragement from guest speakers Fr Frankie Mulgrew and Fr Chris Vipers. Our own Assumption team already reflected the internationality, hailing from: England, Kenya, Vietnam, Italy, Rwanda, Lithuania, and Hungary.
Almost 300 young people joined for the day including students from Assumption in Mexico, who were in the UK for a Summer Camp to improve their English skills, social abilities, and cultural awareness, and got the chance to also strengthen the Assumption connection by joining us for part of the day. Although we may not share the same culture, the charism of the Assumption was very present! Other participants joined us from Indonesian and Ugandan Youth groups, waving their flags and dressed up in their beautiful traditional attire. The gathering truly illustrated the diversity of the Church in London and the UK, and most specially the dynamism of the one Church we are all a part of.
The day was split into two parts. The first focused on ‘Mary arising’ with Fr Frankie (after a warmup of break dancing, and moon walking) – how can we as young Catholics grow in our faith? and the afternoon with Fr Chris on ‘Mary going in haste’ – what actions must we take with the faith that prompts us to go out? After reflecting on the words from the talks, we also had opportunities throughout the day to share our faith stories and personal journeys with one another. Aisling from Pax Christi got us all on our feet to discuss the difficulties we face in the world; to perceive them in the light of what the Bible teaches and to make a pledge – to stand up for something we learnt from the day and to arise for ourselves and for our neighbours. One participant said this, “I need to think of how my actions can affect other people; to not be afraid of what people will think of me – just act; to have confidence to share the Gospel and my faith.” The day ended in a deep and solemn moment of Eucharistic Adoration, with the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation – the long queues indicated the hunger of participants to meet the God of Mercy who longs to meet us, forgives, and renews our faith on our journey. The final Mass celebrated the Transfiguration of the Lord and was a fitting moment to conclude our mini WYD at home, giving us the chance to unite our prayers and intentions with those who gathered in Lisbon with Pope Francis.
We pray that like Mary, whose wisdom knew no bounds, that we will arise and go in haste to bring the message of the Gospel to the people of the world. Lord God, help us to live and work well today and transfigure our hearts with your presence!