Preparing for WYD pilgrimage

By  Andrew Santos, The Catholic Register
  • May 29, 2008

Preparing for my upcoming trip to Sydney, Australia, for World Youth Day (WYD) this July has taken me a long time to plan.

But deciding what to wear during my 15-day trip hasn’t been the issue.

As part of my spiritual preparation for WYD, I’ve gathered together with other pilgrims for Office of Catholic Youth formation days held periodically throughout the past year.

My group reflected on who we’d choose to be the patron saint of our pilgrimage. Among the saints considered were Blessed Mary MacKillop, St. Maria Goretti and Blessed Mother Teresa. These individuals will play an important part in this year’s pilgrimage. The group finally decided upon Mother Teresa.

These last two years for me have been a time of researching and learning more about church history in Australia, offering my trip as an intention at all Masses and reflecting upon this year’s theme from Acts 1:8.

Since February 2006, my heart has been set on attending the WYD festivities. My older brother attended the most recent WYD in Cologne, Germany, in 2005.

At that time, I was 15 years old and unable to attend. I kept the idea of attending WYD in mind and continually prayed about whether or not to attend.

In February 2006, I began sending my resume to potential employers. I knew that some sort of income was necessary if I really wanted to travel for WYD. I ended up with a job as a part-time cashier for a grocery store in my neighbourhood.

I jumped on the opportunity and have been working there ever since, putting money aside for the cost of WYD.

I did double duty last summer by working as a summer student at the Pontifical Mission Societies in Toronto.

Initially, I promised my parents that I would put up about half of the entire cost of the trip to Australia. Fortunately, God has helped me to raise funds by introducing me to some very generous people. I knew that this was a blessing from God since I’d been praying about this for a long time.

The Catholic Women’s League at my parish, St. Justin Martyr, presented me with a $500 cheque for my trip. And a family friend came forward with $200 she had raised on my behalf without telling me.

Generating enough funds for my trip is no longer as big an issue. I continually pray that I’ll be able to understand fully what a pilgrimage means.

Aside from all the sights, souvenirs and reporting that I’ll do, I hope this will also be a life-changing experience.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending diocesan WYD celebrations in the past, but never have I had the opportunity of travelling on my own to attend one elsewhere.

After a long, gruelling year at school, I’m looking forward to it.

To this day, I have never travelled by airplane. So, I also pray that I can overcome my flying fears and get past the airport.

(Santos, 17, is a co-op student with The Catholic Register.)

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