By Victoria Ferguson, volunteer with SCIAF (Caritas Scotland)
As I prepare to depart for the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro I have been reflecting on this year’s theme ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’ Matthew 28:19. What a perfect theme for an international event which brings together young people from around the world for the biggest and only event of its kind.
Pope John Paul II was the founder and of this unique event. In its 28th year it continues to grow in attendance, with a predicted 2 million pilgrims this year. All of who will travel to Brazil and come together to meet with the Holy Father Pope Francis, for his first international visit since being appointed as the Successor of Peter.
This will be my fifth World Youth Day and I consider myself blessed to be attending this rather spectacular festival of faith in which young people present the unity of everyone through faith.
The event is from the outset about exemplifying ‘Caritas’ in the world. For example young people who could not afford to attend are supported by pilgrims from other countries living out God’s commandment to ‘love thy neighbour’.
Caritas Internationalis will have a presence at World Youth Day through their workshops and the events this week led by Cardinal Rodriguez. He like many of his fellow bishops will be leading the Catechesis events which are held on three of the mornings next week in multiple languages.
Having attended so many WYD days now I would says catechesis is one of my favourite events at WYD. Learning from the leaders of our Church and coming together with my brothers and sisters in Christ for mass is an unforgettable experience.
When in Madrid, Archbishop Dolan of New York spoke about the cross and how the shape indicates the way Christ wants us to live our lives; the first vertical beam links us to the Father and the second horizontal beam extends out to all people calling us to be people of social justice and put our love of the Father into the work we do with people on earth. So keeping that in mind, myself and my brother will be proudly taking a little bit of Scotland with us and SCIAF to Rio this week, we hope to link up with twitter and with the event Scotland’s Rio in Stirling http://www.sciaf.org.uk/ next weekend. We will be praying for the work of SCIAF across the world and for the people who still need its help as we join the Catholic Youth and Pope Francis in Rio!