By Claire Dulac

Claire reflects on her Manila experience, ten years later.

Specifically, WYD has strengthened my journey with God and opened my eyes to a whole world out there that exists beyond all understanding over here in Canada. Traveling to Denver, Manila, Parisand Rome to see other youth and their devotedness to God and to Christianity is still mind boggling. Coming from a parish of a maximum of twelve parishioners, including our family, to a world parish of five million in Manila was overwhelming. I was encouraged to know that there are many youth around the world who want to seek God.

When you are at home in your own parish, it is difficult to realize that no matter where you are in the world, Catholicism is the same. I have been blessed with the ability to travel and no matter where in the world I am, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, I can go to any Catholic church and know what is going despite the language barrier. It is a great comfort to know that there is an opportunity for the youth of the world to get together and profess their love for God openly and without restraint; to learn and hear messages directly from Pope John Paul II.

Manila was an overwhelming experience for me, a humbling experience in that coming from Canadawe were treated like royalty. People who literally had nothing gave of themselves so freely. It was humbling being pushed to the front of the lines in crowds solely because we were Canadian.

What touched me the most was seeing the poverty of the Philippines and the genuine happiness of the Filipino people. Their wanting to give and their way of welcoming us foreigners to their country was something that will always stick with me. I have never felt as welcome in a country as I did in thePhilippines and was amazed by the faith and willingness of the people to give.