The case for participating in WYD in Portugal

The case for participating in WYD in Portugal

The next World Youth Day (WYD) will be held in Portugal in 2022. In brief, WYD is a Catholic Youth Festival that was introduced by the late Pope St. John Paul II in the 1980s.

The most immediate WYD was held in Panama in 2019 under the theme “Behold I am the handmaid of the LORD let it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38.The entire programme was focused on being fully surrendered to God and saying yes to His will. Pope Francis’s final message at the WYD included a reminder to all youth that we are the now of God.

As is usual, the venue for the next WYD was announced during the closing mass. The next venue is Portugal. The dates, theme and other details are yet to be announced. But from now till then, it’s basically about three years plus.

So a few thoughts. Portugal is quite close to Africa so it should be relatively less expensive. I want to propose that youth in Ghana decide to attend the WYD 2022 either as a volunteer or participant.

Whether you’re a student or a worker, it is possible to raise funds, save or be sponsored to attend the WYD. Although on the face value it seems expensive, it’s a very life changing experience which I believe every Catholic should have. Many parishes and dioceses in Ghana sponsor active youth to WYD. It’s important to start early; you can save daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly according to your strength. You can also raise funds from family, friends and other benefactors if need be.

The experience of travelling, the opportunity to experience the Catholic faith in another country, becoming a member of a Catholic family in another country, meeting and interacting with new people, sharing your faith with others and seeing the universality of the church are among some of the benefits of participating in WYD. There are many other benefits.

And the location! Portugal is old Europe so it will be pretty exciting to travel and see. In addition, because of the Schengen visa it will be pretty easy to potentially see a few other places such as Lourdes in France, a site of Marian apparitions. Of course, Fatima is also in Portugal so it’ll be great to visit.

You can go as an individual, with the Archdiocese of Accra, the Ghana National Catholic Youth Council (GHANCYC) or with a private agency organizing a WYD trip such as Safe Life Experience Consult in Ghana.
Try to explore the available options and choose what’s best for you.

A key thing to remember is to start getting your documents ready. You’ll need a visa which is quite a laborious process especially in developing countries where you need to show your social and economic ties to your country before you can be considered for a visa. So you’ll need your birth certificate, your marriage certificate if you are married, your bank account statements (which should be quite substantial; even if you’re a student please try to engage in some bank transactions). You would also need letters from your school (if you’re a student), your workplace (if you’re a worker) and your company if you’re self employed. You also need to add your company documents if you’re self employed. Salary slips may also be needed.

Angela Azumah Alu, 12/04/2019, Legon
lisbon 2022




USA 2019-4th/5th February 2019

USA 2019-4th/5th February 2019

06 February 2019
After supper on Sunday evening, we continued to talk and chat. Some did some more shopping. I packed most of my stuff since I was leaving on Monday evening.
Monday came even before we slept…Lol and soon it was morning. I finished up my packing and brought my bags down. We had breakfast and a time of prayer in the big chapel in the house since we couldn’t have mass; there was a burial service at the church. Denis had left at dawn with a parishioner who was going to Washington since his flight was taking off there.
Soon after, the bus came to take us to town. The plan was to take the ferry to Staten Island and back so we could go back to the Pauline bookshop. We opted for another trip since we wanted to see Lady Liberty and other sites.
So we went on another tour where we had to pay $30 per person (minus food). They provided a bus to take us to where the boat was. Then we had to wait forever for the boat to return from the tour. And then another age for enough people to fill up the boat before we left. It was very annoying. And the tour guide kept reminding everybody that there was food and drink downstairs…as if it was free. Fr. Alphonse arranged for us to get some snacks and drinks. They had hot dogs, empanadas, chicken nuggets, fries etc. And of course drinks! We had fun.
Finally, the tour started. It was amazing! She showed us lots of amazing sites: Governor’s Island, Ellis Island, Wall Street, the Brooklyn bridge, The Statue of Liberty and many others. We took lots of pictures and then… it ended.
We had to wait for the bus to take us back to Battery park. From there, we went to the subway to get a train back. Then finally we got home. It was almost 6. We called my friend Robert who was taking me to the airport. He set off to come and get me. We had a pleasant surprise in the person of Fr. Francis Asagba. It was great meeting him. He worked at Good Shepherd in the early 90s.
Robert came around and we went to the airport. We had a great chat on the way. Thank God for friends!
At the airport, I checked in quickly and went to wait to board. We started boarding at around 8:45pm. The plane left at 9:30 as scheduled. I slept, read changes and watched a movie, Patrick. The meal they served was vegetarian pasta with tomato sauce and something that looked like burnt onions. Oh no! I was really hungry too! But I could barely eat it. So I drew the attention of the stewardessbe assigned to our aisle and she brought me snacks. Those were better. Later we had breakfast. I opted for eggs. That was very edible for me. Finally we landed in Amsterdam. Since I was well dressed, I wasn’t cold. I went to check the boarding gate number and then got a seat there. Later I realized I had misplaced my Ghana branded muffler. I probably left it in the plane.
It was an interesting wait. I used the airport WiFi to check in with the team in the US and made some calls. After about two hours, we boarded. We left a little later than scheduled because of some problems with an engine or so. But finally, we left. I watched Sully and Oceans 8, played solitude, some videos about cities and slept. I was really tired. I had rice and chicken for lunch. As usual, I didn’t eat the salad. Later, we had some pizza. I spoke to the lady next to me. She’s a PhD student from the UK coming to Ghana to do some work on Malaria. It sounds exciting. And then, home! My dad was already at the airport. God bless him! Now I was warm because of the weather but I decided to suck it up coz my bags were full anyway. After check out and getting my luggage, we went home. Thank you God!
We had rice and chicken sauce for supper. And then of course, more hugs and pictures. It was great to have travelled but it was even better to be back home. Thus ended Angela’s WYD diaries.
I’m thankful to all who helped make this journey possible and I pray for God’s blessings on them all. May we always live the words: Here I am the servant the LORD speak your word in me and let your will be done.

USA 2019-2nd-3rd February 2019

USA 2019-2nd-3rd February 2019

03 February 2019

Saturday 3rd February 2019 saw us wake up early to get ready and have breakfast. We didn’t have mass because we had to leave early. Our first stop was the Museum of Natural History. On our way there, we saw a lot of wonderful sights from our cozy seats in the van. The PPC vice chair, Mr. Asiamah, and Fr. Fred went with us.

The Museum is huge!!!!! We met Mr. Acheampong, the parishioner who arranged the excursion for us. God bless him! Our first stop was the “Unseen ocean”. Sublime is the only word to describe it. We saw parts of the world we had never imagined. We even learnt that there’s a mountain higher than Mount Everest in Hawaii. We also learnt that new Islands are being discovered in Hawaii. And we saw a soft robotic landline thing created by one scientist to help other scientists pick things up underwater.

From there we went to watch a movie about animals in the backyard. It basically showed the four seasons, the didferent flora and fauna seen in each season and generally invited viewers to be more aware of the ecosystem and the interactions therein. I loved the touch of a young narrative especially with her ending up as a biologist. To top it all off, we watched the movie with 3D glasses! Talk about cool! Really nice way to market Science! We also passed through the hall of dinosaurs, went to see mammals from Africa and saw a picture of initial meeting of the Europeans and native Americans. The whole place was full of history and it was heartwarming to see the many rooms and halls named after benefactors and the way former employees /directors were honoured with their names on the wall and all.

Mr. Acheampong got us pizza!!!! Dancing a jig already! We ate our pizza in the van. Our next stop was the Pauline Press bookshop in New York. We bought books and other religious items! Yay! From there we came back to have supper. We had jollof for supper! Charley, more enjoyment for us. 🙂

In the evening we met the youth of the Ghanaian community. They were rehearsing for their 6th March event. We were told the Ghanaian community organizes its own 6th March event to celebrate Ghana’s independence. The youth were rehearsing Ghanaian dances! Impressive! We made a presentation of some souvenirs to them. We had some jama which they joined in! A lot of them knew the twi songs we were singing! We also met the PPC Secretary and Treasurer. They expressed their delight at our coming and entreated us to take up our places as we are the present and not the future. Same message we had from the Pope and Archbishop Palmer-Buckle. We also passed on the message to the Ghanaian youth of the parish. Generally, the executives spoke about how the Ghanaian community helped them to bond as Ghanaians and also provided a place for their children to learn about their heritage.

On Sunday, most of us slept in. We got ready, had breakfast and joined the bus to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the thanksgiving mass for the Black History month. It was awesome! The whole Cathedral was full! The mass started at 2pm. Our priests concelebrated the mass. The main celebrant was Bishop Guy Sansaricq while Fr. Andrew (Drew) Smith was the homilist. Based on the readings for the 4th Sunday of the year, Year C he called on us to remember that we are known and called by God, called to love because love is the only thing that endures, and called to trust in God at all times no matter how difficult things may be. The songs were many and varied. It was great to hear a song composed by Bro. Plus Agyemang used for the Alleluia. We also sang an Akan appellation at the elevation. The bidding prayers were in different languages such as English, Spanish, French, Akan, Igbo and Creole. It was amazingly multicultural. After mass, we came back to fufu and light soup for supper!!!! Yay! Others had kenkey. We also went to the 5pm Ghanaian mass (twi) to make a presentation to the Parish. We presented a picture of the Sankofa, a chasuble and stole and a drum. The priests dressed Fr. Fred in the chasuble. We took pictures after mass and went back home.

USA 2019-30th January to 1st February 2019

USA 2019-30th January to 1st February 2019

We got to New York! Yay! But the cold was intense!!!!!!!! Even with our jackets and other winter clothes, we felt cold. At that point I started wondering about homeless people in cold countries. May the LORD help them. We got access to the free airport WiFi and thus were able to communicate with family and friends. We also heard from Fr. Fred Agyemang, our host. Apparently there had been an accident on the road so he was delayed. Finally Fr. Fred arrived. We took some pictures and got into the cars provided. We went to the St. Luke Parish retreat centre where we were going to stay for the duration of the trip. When we arrived, there was jollof, chicken and salad! There was shito too! Yay! The PPC vice chair was present to welcome us. We ate and retired to bed soon after.

On Thursday, we had mass at 11am at the St. Luke Catholic Church. Fr. Alphonse reminded us of St. John Bosco and all he stood for on the occasion of his feast day. After mass, Fr. Fred officially welcomed us and gave us some highlights of the programme planned for us. He also showed us around the church and some of us saw our first snow. After that, the PPC chair also welcomed us and shared with us the history of the Ghanaian community at St. Luke. We then had lunch and rested. Later, Fr. Fred arranged for one of the parishioners to take us to town. He drove us to Macy’s and another mall where we did some shopping. Some also got snacks and others food.
We came back to meet ampesi and kontomire stew for supper. Yay!!!!!
On Friday we had mass at 11am. We then rested and left at 4:30pm for the Sheen Centre. We were privileged to watch “Emanuel” a documentary film about the Charleston shootings. It is yet to be released! The film was very moving and really showed the power of love and forgiveness. Afterwards, there was an intriguing discussion about the film, the shooting and the implications of it. We then went for a cocktail at Subculture. The entire event was organized by the Office of Black Ministry of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and forms part of activities for the Black History Month. It was thanks to Brother Tyrone of the office of Black Ministry that we had the opportunity.
After the cocktail, we took the subway back to the Bronx.

Guest post by Maria Alejandra Rojas

Guest post by Maria Alejandra Rojas

Maria is a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in David, Panama.

They hosted pilgrims from Ghana and Guatemala during the just ended WYD Panama 2019.

Efua Brew-Hammond and I were hosted by Maria’s family.

Here’s Maria:

“For where two or three are gather in my name, there am I among them.”
(Mt 18:20)

Definitely, receiving our pilgrims was the same feeling of receiving Jesus in our home, a truly unique and transforming experience, we could learn from the culture diversity, open our hearts to people from different places of the world, so always remember that we don’t choose our family, they are God’s gift and now you are a part of our big family.

Today we can confirm that the most impressive and admirable teaching can be defined in a single word “faith”. There was no barrier or language that prevented us from living God’s love, we were taught that there are 5 continents, 194 countries, different religions, but ONLY ONE GOD! The tiredness, neither the climatic conditions nor the distance were obstacles to meet with Jesus and renew our faith. Dear pilgrims were that fresh air of joy and youth that made us remember that we are an instrument of love for the world. For my family and for my country it was an honor to share with all of you and be part of this great experience full of blessings, our home will always be home to all of you.

After this World Youth Day Panama 2019 we can only say thank God for giving us this great opportunity to serve on behalf of our beloved Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish. Thank you for all your blessings and we desire that we all carry your word in our hearts. Remember … “Do not be afraid to take the love of God.”

WYD Panama 2019 Diaries-16th January 2019 (Part 2)

WYD Panama 2019 Diaries-16th January 2019 (Part 2)

Yesterday was eventful! Our breakfast was croissants with Apple juice, sausage and one traditional Panamanian breakfast item called Almojabano that’s made from corn. After breakfast we went to the church and met some of the other members of the Ghana team assigned to Sacred Heart Parish. (Sagrado Corazon de Jesus). It was all fun as we took pictures and got ready for our excursion.
There was a rehearsal of a choreography about Jesus’s interaction with Martha about the resurrection going on so we watched and participated. It was great! Finally, we got into the bus and went to Boquete for an excursion. First stop was to a famous rocky/mountainlike structure at Boquete where we climbed up and wrote our names. (We were there some…lol). Just across was a waterfall which we explored as well. We also got some souvenirs. From there, we went to a restaurant for lunch. Some of the food items included rice, mashed potatoes, chicken, pork and vegetables. Most people also had a drink to go with their meals. After lunch we walked to a flower and coffee fair…It was amazing! There were flowers everywhere! There was horseback and pony riding available too! And of course some shops where we could buy souvenirs.
Next stop was to Capilla Navadid de Boquete where the Franciscans have a sublime nativity scene carved in stone. It’s a whole set up so there’s a voice over that takes you through the whole Christmas story. It was very moving and completely out of this world. There are some pews there for mass. Beautiful!
From there we came back to the Parish for a welcome mass for the pilgrims. We met some other pilgrims from Guatamela so all of us joined in the procession for mass. Randolf was the cross bearer while Maame Senti and Lawrencia carried the candles. Esther and I held the Ghana flag. All the priests from Ghana joined to celebrate the mass. Augustine took the first reading while Assumpta took the responorial psalm and Fr. Bernard took the gospel. So at least there was some English to balance all the Spanish :-). Everything else was in Spanish but it’s mass…so we responded in English. 😎. After mass, we went to another room for snacks. Then we came back to the church to have a taste of Panamanian culture. We were treated to some Panamaian orchestral music performances and folk dances. We enjoyed everything to the max! The Parish also introduced the various ministries they have. They have a liturgical, family life/counselling, youth and communion ministries.
From the church, our mum drove us to an aunt’s house for a birthday celebration. We had cake and ice cream! We also met more wonderful family members: cousins, aunties and uncles. We also learnt a new expression: “que so pas” said with swag. Back home, we shared Ghanaian and other West African music with Roy and Juan Diego (the nephew) before bed.
A full day indeed!
Today we have catechesis, sports and mass.

WYD Panama 2019 Diaries-17th January 2019

WYD Panama 2019 Diaries-17th January 2019

So yesterday was another amazing day! Breakfast was Almojabano with cheese, turkey ham, juice and melon. Efua and I were late to the church (hiding my face) so we got scolded. However, all was forgiven. When we got there the others had already been taught some Spanish songs and their animations…sometimes with English translations. We had a time of catechesis where the Ghana team shared with each other their thoughts on the theme for the WYD : Luke 1:38 Here I am the servant of the LORD, let it be done to me according to your word.
Through the sharing, we were reminded of the need to say yes to God in faith and be obedient to His word. Other reminders were that we have to keep saying yes daily and to live congruent lives at all times. We were also taught how to say Hail Mary in Spanish. We had group dynamics where we animated “If you’re happy and you know it.” We also did some cultural dancing: adowa, kpalongo and agbadza. We also did “Kyekyekule” and generally had a blast. The Guatamelan pilgrims also did some animations. The catechesis for the day reminded pilgrims of God’s love in Jesus and the need to respond to that love. It also focused on the family and on learning through the family as Jesus did.
In between we had snacks and lunch. After lunch, the volunteers took both sets of pilgrims to a nearby school for games. The games included volleyball, football and basketball.
Next activity was mass. As usual, the Ghana team was well represented. All the priests concelebrated with Fr. Bernard Adjei-Appiah as the main celebrant. So the mass was in English! Yay! Philip was the cross bearer while two Guatamelan pilgrims held the candles. Angela took the reading, Efua the responses psalm and Fr. Emmanuel took the gospel all in English. The Guatamelan pilgrims did the same in Spanish. Fr. Davis in his homily reminded all to come to Jesus as the leper did. We are to bring all our problems to Jesus by whatever means possible…even if it means breaking convention trusting that He has the answer and will help us.
Families came for their pilgrims after mass. Our mum and sister took us out for some fries and a burger. Efua had lemonade while I took a pineapple smoothie. Over our late supper, we continued learning about each others’ countries and cultures. We then came back home to prepare for bed. Awesome day!