This week the focus of the Catholic Church is on Rio for World Youth Day. Pope Francis arrived yesterday to a very enthusiastic (sometimes too much so) crowd. Parish duties prevented me from attending WYD this year, but I have been to two World Youth Days in the past – Toronto and Cologne.
Bishop DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn spoke of the impact of WYD on vocations to John Allen from the National Catholic Reporter:
You talked about vocations. Do you have some “WYD priests” in Brooklyn?
Definitely, we see them in the seminary now. It makes an impression to see all these young people from all over the world who have faith. It’s a great encouragement to people, and we’ve seen vocations come out of it. It’s not just priests, because I’ve also seen a couple of women’s vocations come out of it. It’s more than worth the trouble to do this.
Of course, everybody who takes part strengthens their faith. All the young people come away from this a bit changed. They see the church differently, and maybe they see the world differently. Some of them have never traveled, and they have an opportunity to see their lives and their faith in a different way.
Can you give me a sense of numbers? How many WYD vocations are we talking about?
I have about 65 seminarians, and I’d say there are at least 10 who were World Youth Day vocations. We have 10 seminarians with us right now because we want them to talk the young people too.
One in six or seven doesn’t sound bad.
It’s a good average. Of course, some of these people were already thinking about it, but this solidifies it. They see the church in a different way, they see the Holy Father, they see a million or more people coming together.
While I cannot say that my vocation came from attending two World Youth Days I must say it certainly didn’t hurt. I had already been considering a vocation before i went to Toronto. Being together with so many hundreds of thousands of other Catholics in love with the Lord showed me how powerful our Faith is. It showed me that I wasn’t alone in my faith. I’ve never felt so connected to anything or anyone before. Being so close to Bl. John Paul 2 and Benedict XVI showed me how apostolic our faith exactly is. I was completely overwhelmed when the pope drove past me in Toronto. It’s a feeling I will never forget. WYD is very clearly not a vacation, but rather a pilgrimage. Its a journey of many finding the Lord who waits to embrace them. It’s the finding of yourself, of your true self.
I came across this picture this morning on Facebook, from the News.Va english page
That picture just said so much to me. It said there is nothing dead about our Church. The Church is alive! It said to me there is nothing old about the Church. The Church is young! It brought back the memories of being so close to Bl. John Paul 2 and Benedict XVI. God Bless and protect our Pope Francis. God Bless and protect the many many young people gathered in Rio this week! May God bring to completion the good work he has begun in them this week!