We are delighted to share the following poem, written by Fiona Hutchings, one of the wonderful group leaders on this years world youth day pilgrimage! Warmest thanks to Fiona and to all of the leaders for their hard work, enthusiasm and dedication!

A World Youth Day Reflection From A Group Leader

by Fiona Hutchings

The ever present ping of a WhatsApp message.

Counting the heads and watching the diocesan flags.

Seeing the groups grow together and bond

Strangers becoming friends as they walk and pray together.

Exhilaration and tiredness existing side by side.

Umbrellas, hats, pegs and wristbands,

Rucksacks, water bottles and sun cream.

Queues, queues, queues.

T shirts, lanyards, flags, flags, flags.

Singing, clapping, drumming, chanting

Papa Francisco! Papa Francisco

Open hands, crossed arms, bodies in prayerful motion

Sitting, standing, kneeling and lying down,

Noise, noise, noise and then silent adoration.

Reconciliation on the move or in the city of Joy

Surprised by an occasion of grace.

A kaleidoscope of speakers generating new thoughts

Or strengthening deep beliefs

A chance to pray in different ways

All roads lead to the Lord.

A time of hurry as we hasten like Mary

A time to echo her ‘yes.’

Huge moments of praise and worship with strangers

Who share our awe and wonder.

Altars miles away in the distance.

Watching on screens.

Small group masses enveloped in friendship

Ave Marias and Magnificats ringing out.

Smiles of encounter, handshakes of meeting.

Faces full of optimism and promise

Hearts full of gratitude and energy.

Testing almost beyond endurance

A vigil on stony ground

A sunrise full of promise

Sharing the culture, making Portuguese friends.

Ready to reflect but ready to go again

To make this joyous meeting reality in Seoul.

There is nothing like this experience.

Truly this is pilgrimage. This was a journey.

We are changed.

Obrigada Lisboa!