Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer
September 25, 2018 // Diocese

World Youth Day pilgrims prepare for the journey

Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer

Less than four months remain until young people across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend embark on not only a physical pilgrimage to Panama, for World Youth Day, but a spiritual one.

On Sept. 18, the pilgrims gathered at St. Francis Xavier Church in Pierceton to discuss the means by which they must prepare themselves for the journey. While they discussed in detail the itinerary and the items they should bring, the meeting ultimately revolved around spiritual preparation.

Secretary of Catholic Education Carl Loesch stressed this aspect. While the plane can cut the distance between the pilgrims and Panama, he asked: “How can we cut down the distance between our heart and God’s?” The pilgrims were then given concrete tips to do that. One tip was to read the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke at least once during each month leading up to their departure. This particular chapter includes the theme for the pilgrimage, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

This verse is relevant to young people discerning God’s will for their lives. Although His plan may be unclear at first, they are reminded to say “yes” to Him, as Mary did.

World Youth Day pilgrims learn ways that they can prepare spiritually for their upcoming experience in Panama.

Next, it was recommended that the pilgrims participate in Mass frequently and partake in the sacrament of reconciliation regularly. This will ensure that their souls are open to the graces that they will receive in Panama. Additionally, the young people were advised to ready themselves for the plethora of hardships they will face during the trip. At times during the pilgrimage, they may be tired, hungry and spiritually exhausted; they were reminded to offer these hardships up “for the sake of drawing close to Christ.” Furthermore, the pilgrims were encouraged to “see Christ in the poor and suffering.” By humbling themselves to see Christ in even the most seemingly hopeless places, they prepare their hearts to see Christ at work in their everyday lives.

Finally, the pilgrims were implored to pray for the youth of the world. With the Synod on Young People scheduled for October in Rome, prayer for a fruitful assembly is essential to deliver the Good News to a new generation of young Catholics growing up in an ever-changing society, they were told. These tips will most certainly ensure the pilgrims will be spiritually satisfied in Panama.

The pilgrims said they were excited to represent the diocese in front of not only young Catholics from around the world, but also the Holy Father, Pope Francis. After about one year of preparation, the time draws near for them to depart not only by plane, but through spirit. As they continue to prepare themselves for their journey, both physically and spiritually, the faithful throughout the diocese are encouraged to pray to Our Lady of Antigua, patroness of Panama, for their safety and that they may be filled with the grace of God throughout their journey.

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