“We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received.”
~Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 2010
It’s World Youth Day Month once again. This event happens every two or three years. Youth from all over the world and our very own Diocese of Novaliches Commission on Youth are now journeying to Krakow, Poland.
World Youth Day is a life-changing experience but that experience will only have meaning if we share it with others. Remembering the chants of the Youth in World Youth Day Sydney, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going and soon all those around can warm up with its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love. Once you’ve experienced it, you spread the love to everyone, you want to pass it on.”
Experiencing God’s love in World Youth Day is like a flame in the heart. That flame glows that you can’t help but ignite and be a beacon that inspire others. It is God’s mercy and favor to be able to join World Youth Day because not everyone gets the chance to be physically part of the experience. What more if you’ve been able to experience it twice or even thrice.
I am blessed to be able to witness two World Youth Days: Sydney 2008 and Madrid 2011. World Youth Day like the Youth Ministry will always be a beautiful journey of self-discovery. Whether in Sydney, Madrid or Manila, what matters is the heart of the person. An open heart is needed to experience the grace of God’s love and mercy overflowing in the journey.
I remember WYD Sydney 2008. I experienced God’s unfathomable love because I put aside myself. I was receptive to God’s overflowing love. Even a little sacrifice of walking kilometers, having a little sleep, freezing cold in Sydney. Then there’s the dying in the hot Summer of Madrid in 2011. All of these are God’s way of saying, “I love you, my child.”
After World Youth Day, I had this eagerness to share the experience with my three sisters: Maria, Stella and Isabel. For me, fulfillment is when my sisters are also active in the Ministry, dedicating their lives to God.
In 2013, it was Maria’s turn in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Maria is the current COY Nova iTalk Program Coordinator. She leads the Vicariates in the Diocesan Youth Ministry.) This year, 2016, it’s Stella’s turn in WYD Krakow. (Stella is an active iShare Program member and PYM leader in Parroquia Dela Nuestra Senora Y Buenviaje.) God-willing, next will be Isabel’s turn in 2018 or 2019. (Isabel is an active Youth leader in Parroquia Dela Nuestra Senora Y Buenviaje.)
My husband, Nikko, and I were supposed to join WYD Krakow. We’ve been meeting with friends since last year organizing our activities of the pilgrimage but something came up and it didn’t happen. Rarely did we know that a few months later, we will receive a sweet gift from Heaven. God is indeed a God of mercy and providence.
After months of praying through the intercession of Inang Desay (Mary, Uniter of Knots), and amidst all my ovary issues, we are now having a baby! Our new dream is for our children to witness God’s love in WYD and for them to be active Youth servant leaders, dedicating their lives to our one true love, Jesus Christ.
The theme of the 26th World Youth Day Krakow 2016 is: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7). Pope Francis chose this verse to emphasize the importance of the Beatitudes which are at the heart of Jesus’ teaching.
In his first Sermon, Jesus presents us with eight examples of qualities that bring us closer to the Kingdom of God. Krakow and World Youth Day’s motto lead us to the Spark of Mercy. Jesus’ appearance to St. Sister Faustina radiated Mercy from Krakow-Lagiewniki to the whole Universal Church.
Krakow is widely known as the center of worship of God’s mercy, and young pilgrims who come will surely want to see the place of the revelations, Sister Faustina’s tomb, and the Shrine – the place where St. John Paul II entrusted the world to God’s Mercy.
The journey doesn’t end in Sydney, Madrid, Brazil or Krakow. The way we create meaning into it is by sharing it with others through stories, pictures but even more in tangible ways that will create an impact in the lives of others.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola said, “Go forth and set the world on fire.” When you experience God’s love, it’s like being on fire. When you are on fire, you tend to be like a catalyst. You tend to be a channel of that love and mercy to others. That can be done through giving our utmost love and service in our Families, Parishes, Vicariates, Diocese and the whole Catholic Community.
Ms. Ann Rosselle Cortes-Camba started as a Youth & Program Coordinator for St. Peter Parish Shrine of Leaders in 2008 before she became the Lay Coordinator of the Diocese of Novaliches’ Commision on Youth in 2010 until 2014. She is currently a Senior Bid Manager at IBM Philippines, where she has worked for the last six years. An advocate of Civil Rights and Youth Empowerment, she is a graduate of Business Administration from Miriam College (2004-2008) and is presently taking up Law from San Beda College (2010-2016).