Young Romans head to Lisbon for World Youth Day
By Francesca Merlo
Final preparations for World Youth Day are underway. Whilst many pilgrims set out on their journeys to reach Lisbon, Portugal for the 2-6 August celebrations, some are just finishing up the final touches.
Amongst these are the pilgrims of Rome’s Don Orione Parish. Nine young people aged 18-21 are putting together the final pieces: mattresses, sleeping bags and other camping equipment. “This is mainly for the Vigil” explains Stefano, one of the eldest of the group.
He says he goes to World Youth Day events in order to undergo a different journey of faith “not the classic one”, but one in which you enrich and are enriched by the myriad of ways other people, from other cities, countries and continents, live their faith.
This is what Gaia is looking forward to, too, as she opens up about her difficult relationship with God and with her faith. Gaia has difficulty balancing her social life, outside the Church, and her Church life - saying that often her friends don’t understand why she chooses to spend time in her parish and go to events like World Youth Day.
“They don’t understand and I am hoping that World Youth Day will show me that actually, I am not the only person living this conflict”, and she expressed the hope that travelling to Lisbon will reassure her in her journey of faith.
Similarly to most of the other groups travelling across the world, the pilgrims of Don Orione will expand into a much larger group once they reach Lisbon. “From nine we will become 300” and those 300 will then join the thousands and thousands of people, there to meet people, explore their faith, explore different countries, and, of course, be with the Pope.