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WYD prayers and testimonies in Haifa

Jmjistes_Haifa

The Madrid WYD participants from the Haifa area met on Saturday, September 11th. It was an opportunity for them to pray together in thanksgiving, to discuss and share their experiences.

The young people of Jerusalem have already gathered together, soon the youth of Nazareth and Bethlehem will do the same. The Haifa WYD Reunion was an important time to reminisce the many significant experiences of the participants in Madrid.

Carmelite Father Abdo Abdo organized the get-together of about 30 youth at the Church of St. Joseph in Haifa. At the thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, the young people brought as offering all the “pilgrim’s kit” during World Youth Day: banners, maps, backpack, rosaries, scarves, etc…

“You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8)

The young people who participated in World Youth Day have had a unique and unforgettable experience of faith with the Holy Father. After such an experience, they could not start the school year without making a testimony, without taking the time to share the events they witnessed. After Mass, a multimedia slide show recounted the highlights of WYD. The presentation included days in the Diocese of Valencia where they were warmly received and their arrival in Madrid for the gathering with the Pope. The evening was filled with sharing and discussion of experiences and feelings, rediscovering the graces the received together from WYD.

The stories combined with anecdotes, exciting encounters and meetings, and some disturbing situations that were overpowered by the incredible WYD experience from all perspectives. They took to heart and are responding to the call made by the Pope to young people in his final homily, “the world needs the joy of your faith … Do not keep Christ for yourself! It is not possible to know the friendship of Christ without sharing it with others. Communicate to others the joy of your faith.” “… you will be my witnesses “(Acts 1:8).

The meeting of the Church and the Pope with the youth of the world was probably the most immediate experience of the Holy Land WYD participants. Young people were able to discover the reality of the Church, including what it means to be “Catholic” and universal. 193 nations were represented! So many diverse cultures and different stories … have hit many young people here.

Another powerful image that will remain imprinted in the memories of many was the now famous Saturday Vigil as the storm raged and officials panicked around the Pope. The young people: wet, tired sang and cheered the Pope who faithfully and humbly remained with them when he could have taken shelter in the sacristy as suggested to him. Over one million and a half young people were overwhelmed by the Pope’s affection, presence and decision to stay with them through the heavy rain and strong winds. 573 of our very own Holy Land youth were there and experienced first-hand our Holy Father’s love for them.

Christopher Lafontaine

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