The spirit of friendship was alive and well as Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Vincent Long, joined pilgrims and chaplains from the Diocese of Parramatta, gathering at Atura Blacktown to celebrate the six-month reunion of World Youth Day Panama 2019.
The evening began with Mass followed by dinner and time for small group reflections. Reflecting on the Matthew’s Gospel of the day about the wheat and darnel (Matthew 13:36-43) Bishop Vincent said that issues in the world such as war causing mass migration on a global scale, and the damage caused by climate change that life can appear to have no hope and problems too overwhelming.
He reminded pilgrims, however, “God is the master of the harvest. We are called to be collaborators in goodness and solidarity. We do our part for the Kingdom of Truth, knowing the victory is God’s. We are not the final arbiter, God is. We need humility and perseverance.”
Bishop Vincent then described World Youth Day as an enigma “sometimes when you put young people together there can be trouble, however, at World Youth Day you see a genuine joy, total strangers coming together and then being sent out to bring that joy into our community and to make a difference to the lives of the people around them.”
Following Mass, pilgrims had the opportunity to spend time with their small groups and reminisce and reflect on what had changed for them since World Youth Day. The group reassembled to reflect on the words of Pope Francis at World Youth Day and sharing results from the Diocese’s post-World Youth Day survey.
Testimonies from the survey included, “One of the key messages I got from Pope Francis during WYD week was that the youth are the future of our Church. The youth of today should go out into the world with their hearts on fire. The youth are capable of changing this world to become the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.”
“My faith is stronger, I feel more confident in my faith, and I’m not afraid to share it with the world.”
At the conclusion of the evening, Bishop Vincent and the chaplains bestowed a special blessing on the pilgrims embarking on their HSC exams.
View images from the WYD Reunion here or below.