The gathering ended with WYD Canada leaders teaching the group some Canadian cheers to share with other international pilgrims Jan. 22, 2019. Photo by Jean Ko Din

Canadians urged to share World Youth Day joy

  • January 22, 2019

The message to Canadian pilgrims at World Youth Day was clear: Get on social media and share the Good News.

“Don’t be shy,” World Youth Day Canada co-ordinator Isabel Correa told more than 500 Canadians gathered Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Panama on Jan. 22.

“Sometimes we like to live privately and we’re afraid to share on social media and identify who we are. That’s our mission here, to break all those barriers and share as much as possible.”

Correa’s advice to Canada’s pilgrims came on Day 1 of the 15th edition of World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands youth from around the world have gathered for six days of celebration and reflection on their faith, accompanied by Pope Francis. The highlights of his three days at WYD included his arrival Jan. 24, the Evening Vigil Jan. 26 and a Mass the next day to wind up the event.

There are almost 1,400 Canadians registered for WYD and since 2002, it has been a tradition for Canadians to kick off the week of celebration together. Correa said it helps pilgrims enter into this pilgrimage experience together. 

“You are ambassadors,” she said to the crowd. “You’re not alone. You’re carrying all the people who made it possible for you to be here so share that to people back home.”

Seven of nine Canadian bishops in Panama also joined the youth in song and celebration. Canadian conference president and Saint-Jean Longueuil Bishop Lionel Gendron told pilgrims that when they share their photos, they share with others the joy of World Youth Day and the joy found in Jesus.

“We are not just ambassadors of Canada but ambassadors of Jesus,” he said. “Through the lens of God, you are seen as who you are and it’s a grace…. When you take a picture, you must see through the eyes of God. You must see yourself and your fellow man through the eyes of God.”

Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine said it has been an honour to meet so many Canadian pilgrims enthusiastic about their faith. 

“In today’s world, we think sometimes that young people are far from the faith or far from the Church, but this (event) bears witness to the power of God and how it touches young people’s hearts,” he said. “It is happening, the New Evangelization, and it has been happening. God is always at work in people’s hearts, especially in the hearts of young people.”

In true WYD style, the gathering ended with WYD Canada leaders teaching the group some Canadian cheers to share with other international pilgrims. 

“This morning was exceptionally nice to see other Canadians here who have travelled as we have and just to grow together in our faith,” said Amanda Tse, a pilgrim from St. Justin Martyr Parish in Markham, Ont. 

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