“Expect the unexpected” – World Youth Day with Pope Francis

Lilian Chan. Credit: Caritas Australia

Lilian Chan. Credit: Caritas Australia

What inspires young people to cross continents for a celebration of faith with Pope Francis? Lilian Chan, on line editor for Caritas Australia, tells us about the energy, diversity and unity to be found at World Youth Day.

One of the phrases I’ve most heard during my preparations for WYD is “to expect the unexpected”!

I am definitely looking forward to seeing Pope Francis. I’ve read a few of his addresses, and they have been so amazing and inspiring – he is simple to understand, but has such insight into the world and how we as Catholics fit in. He also shows such love and understanding of humanity when he speaks, which is so different to what we often hear in our world today.

The chance to see a pope from Latin America in Latin America will be really amazing. Most importantly, I’ve decided to go to WYD this year because I want to grow in my faith and have a stronger relationship with Christ.

I’ve had friends who have attended WYD overseas, and they’ve all come back with a renewed passion for their faith, so attending an overseas WYD has always been something I’ve thought about doing. I think one of the things which particularly attracted me to WYD in Brazil is that it’s such a predominately Catholic country, so I’m keen to experience the passion and dedication that people have for our faith.

As I’m going with my diocese group, I’ve been attending the formation sessions that they’ve run over the past few months. I’ve also been trying to do practical things to prepare, like finding out more about places, and trying to learn a tiny bit of Portuguese. In terms of preparing spiritually, we’ve had catecheses at the formation sessions, and I’ve also been trying to read the Bible a bit more often over the past few weeks.

We will be spending 4 days in Peru before WYD. The first day will be a pilgrimage to visit significant sites of St Rose of Lima and St Martin de Porres. Then we will be spending 3 days with the Houses of Hope – one of the Caritas programmes in Lima. For me, this was definitely one of the things which swayed me to sign up to WYD this year. Being relatively new at Caritas, I’m keen to see a Caritas programme in action. But even more so, I think the few days spending time with the poor will be a really important part of the pilgrimage experience.

I went to WYD in Sydney in 2008. It was a great experience – the thing that struck me most was the energy and passion of young people for our faith – it’s not something you see every day, especially in Sydney! I was also struck by the diversity of our faith – the different cultures, and different ways of expressing our faith; but yet also the universality – the one united faith which was really demonstrated in the final mass.

But I’ve been told that attending a WYD in your home city is nothing like attending one overseas, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what WYD in Rio will be like!

If you work for or volunteer for Caritas, we want to hear your World Youth Day stories from before and during the event. Write to hough@caritas.va or follow.


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