To Be, Rather Than to Seem

Students Experience World Youth Day in Portugal

The 13 Academy members who traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day are back – exhausted yet enriched by an unforgettable journey! They joined thousands at the Opening Mass and Welcome Ceremony with Pope Francis and experienced days filled with faith and unity, attending Mass and Holy Hours and engaging in enriching catechesis sessions. Highlights were simply forming connections and sharing in the Catholic faith with young people from all over the world and reflecting on the day's joy, challenges, and spiritual encounters every night.

As part of the delegation from the Diocese of St. Petersburg, our group made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima for a special retreat on July 30, 2023. The shrine celebrates the 1917 founding event of the apparitions of Our Lady to the three little shepherds.

From Fatima, they traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, for the opening ceremony and Mass for WYD on August 1. There, thousands of faithful encountered Pope Francis on his apostolic journey to Lisbon through prayer, catechesis, vigil, and sacraments, including reconciliation and celebration of the Eucharist. Praying, singing, socializing, and recreating together as the Body of Christ, our youth experienced powerful moments of communion and conversion as they heard the call of their generation to build a more just and united world. WYD cam to a close on Sunday, August 6, with the Holy Mass for World Youth Day.

The motto chosen by Pope Francis for WYD 2023 is the passage "Mary arose and went with haste" (Lk 1:39). Mary's radical availability and response to God's will underscores our prayers for all our youth, that they may be renewed in their "inner strength, their dreams, the enthusiasm, the hope and the gratitude" (Christus Vivit, 20). 

The following AHN students and adults represented our Academy of the Holy Names delegation:

  • Regina Alfonso ’23
  • Anna Anderson ’23
  • Mattie Holland ’24
  • Isabel Salas ’24
  • Emily Jackson ’25
  • Isabella Justin ’25
  • Izzy Donaldson ’25
  • Sofia Genco ’25
  • Fredrick Jackson (Parent)
  • Chris Donaldson (Parent)
  • Lisa Genco (Parent)
  • Sophia Alfonso Gunderson (Parent)
  • Reagan Franklin (AHN Mission & Ministry Staff)

Thank you to those who sent their love, thoughts, and prayers during their pilgrimage. After a remarkable experience, they return with lasting memories, new connections, and deepened faith. The next World Youth Day will be held in Seoul, Korea, in 2027.

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