The Pilgrimage Continues…
So why exactly did I go to World Youth Day in Panama? What is the benefit to Bon Secours Young Adults or to the broader Bon Secours Family?
It’s an important question to answer. And the answer, I believe, lies with the word “pilgrimage.” World Youth Day, an experience directed at Young Adults from college age and into their 20’s, is at its core a pilgrimage. It’s not a vacation or a holiday. It’s not a package of adventure travel, or even an immersion experience. It’s a journey to a holy place – and the holy place that we journey to is a gathering of young people called together to celebrate their faith. Every two to three years the Pope calls for an international gathering, but World Youth Day happens every year and should be celebrated locally every year. Every year it is still a journey, a pilgrimage, to a place made holy because we gather together. It is both the journey to, and the gathering with, that is important. And it is what happens during the gathering – encounter, prayer, and learning – that makes it different.
Over the past year young people took center stage in the conversations happening in the Church. It was an incredible year and a terrible year all at the same time. Through it all – and again all through the pilgrimage in Panama – the need for healthy, holy, accompaniment of young people on their journeys of faith and life rang loudly. And as unworthy as I felt to do so, that is why I went. To walk with people on their journey, on their pilgrimage of faith. At Bon Secours that is always our mission – to walk with young people on their path of faith. And World Youth Day (whether in Panama or in Washington, DC, or in your neighborhood parish) is that mission of accompaniment. For we learned together, we ate together, we prayed together, we explored questions deep and trivial, we suffered with each other though physical fatigue and spiritual fatigue, we laughed and we cried together. And each day we encountered Christ in each other, in the people we met from around the world and around the city, and in the sacraments we celebrated.
The pilgrimage continues for each of us. The question is, how will we continue to walk with each other?