Ursuline Youth Slovakia group at WYD Lisbon 2023
Sisters from Slovakia sharing their experience of the World Youth Day - fragments. The full article will be presented later in the Inter-Ursuline bulletin.
„Let the adventure begin“ - These words describe perfectly our experience during WYD Lisbon 2023.
Our group, Ursuline Youth Slovakia, joined, altogether, approximately 47 pilgrims. Thanks to the support from our sisters and from donations, we were able to embark on this pilgrimage.
We set out on our journey on July 23, 2023, so that we could stay for 2 days in Madrid. We were accomodated in a school gym which belongs to Colegio Stella Maris La Gavia. It was great training for what was waiting for us later in Lisbon. (...)
On July 25, we moved to Codal parish , Vila Chã in the Vale de Cambra in the diocese of Porto in Portugal. We were given a heartwarming welcome – on every church was a poster with the Slovak flag, Serviam emblem and a welcome in Slovak. After our welcome, families we were staying with for the coming week, came to collect us. It was very emotional and beautiful to see the joy and generosity of these younger or older families, in which all of our concerns about language barriers disappeared.
We have been discovering the local culture, language, country, customs and last but not least – personal stories of the local people. We have been praying and sharing together in the program in the city of Porto. On Saturday, we met with all the young pilgrims at the common holy mass - foretaste of a great international experience.
On Sunday, we had a good time with families and parishioners. We celebrated holy mass in the shrine of St. Anthony, had a lunch together, and danced. After that, we moved to the church in Codal, where the procession to St. James took place. (...)
On the way to Lisbon, we stopped at Fatima. We visited the House of Hyacinth and Francis, as well as Sister Lucy’s house. At 15:00, we attended the international holy mass with tens of thousands of other young Catholics. Our Lisbon adventure began in the late evening.
Oh, what a suprise it was, when the volunteers told us: „You are going to stay in the mercado.“ We thought it was going to be some kind of supermarket (because of the root of the word mercado) and we were not far off - it was indeed a market. However, this was only the first of many surprises. Certainly, nobody expected open air showers with a view of a basilica. We had to break many personal boundaries, but nothing discouraged us.
Seeing hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world walking together to a common goal, singing, rejoicing together, on their knees praying, living in the presence of God, together with the Pope, was well worth it. We experienced the high Portuguese temperatures during the Slovak catechesis as well. These were very carefully prepared thanks to the Slovak team. (...) Joy at seeing the pope twice filled our hearts with new energy and reassured us that obstacles, too, have their meaning.
We completed our pilgrimage to the evening vigil and final holy mass after walking for more than 4 hours and covering more than 13 kilometers on foot. We would rather not mention the temperature because sometimes we thought it was more than we could bear.
We were encouraged by the Popeˈs presence and his words: „Donˈt worry! Have courage!“ We believe that this experience strengthened us physically, mentally, but mostly spiritually, and will serve as encouragement for our future lives. (..)