Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
World Youth Day (WYD) 2011 in Madrid was definitely an experience that I will never forget. Having already been to World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, I kind of had an idea of what to expect, but that still didn’t prepare me for what was install for me in Madrid. If I had to describe my WYD 2011 experience in one word, it would be “tough”. There were many things that made the experience very difficult, such as:
– the extreme heat (and humidity) each day
– the airline / airport losing my luggage for the entire time I was in Madrid
– the enormous volume of pilgrims (over 2,000,000 pilgrims, 5 x as many as Sydney)
– being caught up in the middle of a anti WYD demonstration (luckily we were all ok)
– the language barrier (even the schedule was solely written in Spanish)
– the disorganisation of the Spanish and the main events
Despite the aforementioned challenges, the Holy Spirit was also “tough” and managed to break down the stresses I experienced in Madrid to touch me. The theme for WYD Madrid was “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”. What I learnt from the fantastic catechesis sessions I attended was that the theme of this year’s WYD was not about my established, cemented, static faith in the Church (from what I assumed the theme was about), but that my faith journey is always. growing and evolving, never static. I learnt about ways which I can further deepen my relationship with Jesus. One of the most important things I learnt from WYD was that saying “sorry” to God, is equivalent to saying “I love you”; that I need to always apologise to God for my wrong doings and ask for forgiveness.
The group that I went with to WYD were amazing and I developed long-lasting friendships with my fellow pilgrims. I also met many other pilgrims from around the world who inspired me with their passion and enthusiasm for Christ. During one of the chat sessions, I sat next to a American woman who told me that Madrid was her 5th World Youth Day! Going to Madrid and seeing so many different people from all corners of the globe made me realise just how lucky and proud I am to be an Australian and to live in such a beautiful country. So many other pilgrims wanted our Australian flags and you koalas etc. which was really amusing. I was extremely proud when I attended the Australian Gathering which was held in a huge indoor stadium in Madrid. All the Australian pilgrims in Madrid were present at that event and the speeches, music and atmosphere were so moving that it brought a tear to my eye.
WYD Madrid was significantly more challenging than Sydney, but for me, it was all worth it for being able to experience God’s love in Madrid amidst two million other pilgrims from around the world, all there for the same reason – to celebrate our love of Christ.
- Tung Nguyen