Although it has been one long week since the Papal Visit ended for me, the memories of the weekend are still running strongly through my mind.
Usually, having to get up at 7.00 two days in a row is a very daunting prospect in foresight. However, when I woke up Friday morning, I was already buzzing with excitement; knowing that I was both representing CAFOD and going to see Pope Benedict XVI gave me much more a rush than any number of cups of coffee could give me! Once we got to Romero House, we started talking to the other youths, some of whom had been travelling for over 3 hours! The first day consisted of activities which prepared and motivated us to do some work for CAFOD.
They say that “the early bird gets all the worms”… well an early awakening saw many of us “birds” travel through London on a cold morning to go to Westminster Cathedral to celebrate Mass led by the Pope. The cold (at first) didn’t bother us that much as we were all filled with the excitement of attending this memorable occasion. As we got there, we could hear a murmur which increased as we got to the Piazza and then we heard the shouts of “Benedictus!” and various groups adding their voices to hymns which were being sung. The atmosphere was amazing!! After the Mass was the procession from the Piazza to Hyde Park once again during which we heard shouts including that of “We are marching in the Light of God…” (admittedly the majority of them were from our leader, Martin). Fast forwarding to the beginning of the Vigil: Imagine the atmosphere I mentioned before in the Piazza… Now imagine that amplified by the presence of 80,000 people! The varying changes of the atmosphere during the Vigil were inspiring: when a certain family called the Mizens spoke about the death of their son, you could hear a pin drop; whereas when Pope Benedict XVI arrived at Hyde Park, you wouldn’t have been able to hear a million pins drop.
The highlights of the weekend are numerous: meeting and making new friends, watching the sun go down over the London landscape surrounding Romero House, singing “One Bread, One Body” along with 80,000 people… the list goes on. However, the memory, or rather moral, that I will remember the most is that said by Pope Benedict XVI to the youths gathered in the Piazza at Westminster Cathedral:
“I ask each of you first and foremost to look into your own heart, think of all the love that your heart was made to receive, and also love it is meant to give, after all we were made for love… We were made to receive love, and we have. Every day we should thank God for the love we have already known. For the love that has made us who we are. The love that is shown us what is truly important in life.”
It was an absolute privilege to be invited to represent CAFOD at the Papal Visit, and I can very positively say that it has been the most memorable experience I have ever been part of.
Viva Il Papa!
A group of 30 young CAFOD representatives went to the vigil in Hyde Park. These are their stories.
Check out how the resources for young people for HARVEST FAST DAY draw inspiration from the Papal Visit ‘Heart speaks unto heart.’ Use these resources for your assemblies and collective worship and join young Catholics all over in England and Wales prepare for Harvest Fast Day.