On the 26th July 38 of our young people flew out to Portugal to embark on ‘days in the diocese’- an immersive initiative created to facilitate connectivity and unique spiritual experiences ahead of World Youth Day!
The diocese of Viana Do Costelo opened its hearts and homes to our pilgrims, also blessing us with an enriching programme of events, designed to enable our pilgrims to develop relationships and come closer to God, whilst experiencing authentic Portugese food, music, history and more! Pilgrims also had the opportunity to climb the Mount of Santa Luzia, taking in breathtaking views whilst also praying at the basillica of the sacred heart, and took a nourishing day trip to the beautiful medieval town of Ponte De Lima.
We were joined by pilgrims from other countries such as Poland and America, and it was an intense yet life affirming experience for all involved. Members of our clergy Fr Albert, Fr Ignatius and Deacon Nick also concelebrated Mass with the bishop and on feast days.
Below, three of our pilgrims, Dan, Fred and Gabbie have generously shared about their experiences.
Days in the Diocese was a truly enjoyable and spiritually enriching experience. To immerse oneself in another community whilst sharing the universal power of The Holy Spirit has enhanced by relationship with God, and felt like a turning point in my journey of faith. My host family were endlessly kind and tremendously supportive of us as pilgrims. As well as having periods of prayer and reflection, there were a multitude of fun activities throughout our time at the beautiful Viana Do Costelo. From attempting traditional Portugese dance to fresh water swimming, I have continually sampled a range of local activities and culture with other pilgrims. It has first and foremost been a pleasure and a privilege to experience God in the work and lives of others, who are rightly tremendously proud of where they are from.
The people in Viana Do Costelo have been a true example of Catholics in action, showing their love to complete strangers from the minute we arrived into the diocese to the moment we left. I will be forever grateful for having the opportunity to visit such a beautiful place, with the local people so desparate to promote their area to to all of us, no matter who we are.
It was loving reminder that despite any differences in age, cultures, lifestyles, languages and nationalities, we are all beloved children of God. Our family has grown and I am thankful to have gained so many new brothers and sisters in Christ in Viana Do Costelo. What an unforgettable way to kick off World Youth day
Warmest thanks to Dan, Freddy and Gabi for their contributions to this article, and to the diocese of Viana Do Costelo for their warm welcome, kindnesses and hospitality! Please keep our pilgrims in your prayers as they now begin their journey in Lisbon!