Since the beginning of the year the 39-strong group – comprising members of the Neocatechumenal youth groups at Mary Help of Christians Church, Morphett Vale and St Maroun’s Church, Westbourne Park – has been meeting regularly to get ready for the pilgrimage.
Led by Fr Josue Moran and a team of catechists, the Sunday gatherings have provided participants time to reflect on the WYD theme, ‘Mary arose and went with haste’, as well an opportunity for prayer, adoration and to discuss their hopes for the momentous faith journey.
“WYD is important because it gives us the opportunity to experience the love of God, which in turns gives us the courage to give a firm yes to God’s will,” said Fr Moran, who will accompany the group to Portugal for the August 1-6 event.
“Through WYD young people get an opportunity to experience the universality of the Church…to be able to meet so many young people from all around the world and come together as one is very encouraging and amazing.
“WYD is also a vocational pilgrimage. In the past, for many of our members WYD has been a memorable pilgrimage as it has been there that they have met their future husband or wife. Many have also felt the call the priesthood, consecrated life and the mission.”
The Neocatechumenal Way is an ecclesial movement of the Catholic Church which began in 1964 in Madrid, Spain through the work of lay people Francisco (Kiko) Gomez-Arguello Wirtz and Carmen Hernandez. It has since spread throughout the world and operates at the service of bishops as a form of diocesan implementation of Christian initiation and of ongoing education in faith.
Fr Moran said this was the largest group from the Neocatechumenal Way in Adelaide to attend a WYD event, and many had also been involved in previous pilgrimages to Mount Gambier, Kangaroo Island and Sydney and other international meetings.
The local contingent will meet up with other Neocatechumenal groups coming from all the others states of Australia in Spain, before making their way to Portugal.
“There will be about 350 people in total and from Madrid we will be divided into buses and travel to different cities such as Avila, Toledo, Granada, Cordoba, announcing the love of God to whoever we meet and singing with our guitars,” Fr Moran said.
Adelaide participants range in age from 15 to 35 years and each is responsible for funding their own trip.
“Several of them are still at school and university and they have been fundraising by means of garage sales, baking cookies and selling food,” Fr Moran explained.
“We are very grateful to the many people who have generously contributed to their cause already and our pilgrims would welcome any further support.”
For two members of the group, the pilgrimage to Portugal will build on their past WYD experiences.
Elias Irazusta Arpon was only 12 years old when he attended his first WYD in Sydney and has been to every event since.
“All WYDs have been a different experience and given me different gifts but all of them provided me with an opportunity to strengthen my faith, before, during and after the pilgrimage,” he said.
The 27-year-old added that WYD in Brazil had been a highlight.
“It was a beautiful trip and a great experience as I was able to discern my vocation and it was where I met a girl who today is my wife. In Brazil I learnt that happiness comes from putting God first.
“This time around I am looking forward to being back in my home country but more importantly to really be open to see God in my life.”
Raquel Calderer Benitez, 23, attended her first WYD in Poland and it remains one of her “fondest memories as a teenager”.
“One of the most tender feelings in the WYD is to go to a church on the other side of the planet, with a different language, customs and people, and to feel at home, at peace,” she said.
“WYD in Krakow was a moment in my life where I saw the Church in the bigger picture – the immense body of people that God has called to scream out to society, ‘God loves you!’
“This year my boyfriend and I have been speaking a lot about our vocation to marriage, so I go to the WYD with a special intention to learn how to live this calling in holiness, as a witness of the mercy and love that God has had for me.”
COYYA is hosting a WYD event in Adelaide on August 5. More information at cathyouthadelaide.org.auJump to next article