So this post was in response to a question about the need to attend the next World Youth Day in Panama 2019.
By way of introduction, the World Youth Day (WYD) is an international festival for Catholic and other Youth. It was started by late Pope John Paul II. It usually happens every two (2) or three (3) years. In between, there are diocesan and national WYDs.
In 2018, there would be a National Version of the WYD in Ghana from 27th July to 5th August 2018 in the Greater Accra Region with the climax at the University of Ghana. And in 2019, the international Version of the World Youth Day will be in Panama from 22nd to 27th January 2019. Here’s a link to the site: https://www.panama2019.pa/en/home/
The Youth of the Archdiocese of Accra will in addition to the WYD in Panama also visit the USA (Washington and New York) and tour in Panama. So they will travel from 2nd to 29th January 2019.
Below is the Post:
Well, I guess it’s a question worth asking. And there are a lot of answers to give .
One of the very first things is that as a pilgrimage, it can be considered as in service training for youth and youth leaders. This is because it provides them with an opportunity to go and pray and to experience the catholic church in its universality. You might argue that we can always pray in the home church but remember that its the same reason why companies send their staff for training out of the office and why the kingdom of God is likened to a pearl you have to sell everything to get. There’s nothing like being in a place for the sole purpose of fellowshipping with God and other catholic youth. It is literally life changing! You get to hear God as never before because you are away from the usual distractions of life. Everyone who attends has many stories of how God spoke to them and used them to minister to others.
Secondly, as youth and as Catholics, experiencing a Catholic celebration with millions of other catholic youth from all over the world broadens your horizons, gives you new perspectives on how to exercise your faith and how to lead and generally becomes a stepping stone for greater heights. The youthful exuberance is so much that it changes you.
Thirdly, you have the opportunity to exercise your faith through the various religious and cultural activities you participate in. In addition, during the mission days, you are literally a missionary to the family you are staying with. What a way to obey the great commission! You become a lifelong member of that family too! You also get to meet, make friends with and minister to other catholic youth you may never otherwise meet. And of course showcase great Ghanaian culture and experience other cultures.
A fourth reason to go for World Youth Day with the Accra Archdiocese is that because of the format of going with youth from the various parishes, you literally have a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with and spend time with other youth from the diocese over an extended period of time. The friendships and sharing that occur over this period tend to be lasting and very impactful.
A fifth reason is that since for many of the pilgrims it is their first time of travelling, it literally becomes an opportunity to get them out into the world in a faith like environment. This helps with getting your documentation and all other things needed for international travel in order. That way, the church is literally being shrewd in giving its young people an international experience so that in other years, they have an easier and smoother travelling experience. And of course, as you travel you see more and come back with more to teach and impact others with.
Anyway, I will end here. From a physical perspective, it seems like a lot of money and the question may be asked why that money should not be used to cater for the poor and needy in the church. Jesus’s words when Mary wiped his feet with an expensive jar of alabaster oil come to mind. The poor and needy will always be with us and we need to take care of them but, just as Mary anointed Jesus’s feet and Jesus promised that this act will be said in remembrance of her, so it is important for youth/the parish to literally do all that is necessary to take part in international WYD at this time because there may be no other time.
Angela Azumah Alu