World Youth Day - Making Disciples Of All Nations

At the close of the Holy Year of Redemption on 22 April 1984, then Pope (soon saint) John Paul II, entrusted the large wooden cross used during the Jubilee Year to representatives of the world’s youth with the words: ‘My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ's love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption’. Almost thirty years later, with typical exuberance and vigor, the young are still carrying that cross across the world, and how!

In December of the following year, the first UN-declared ‘International Youth Year’, Pope John Paul II announced the institution of World Youth Day (WYD), a coming together of the world’s young adults to celebrate their Catholic Faith. WYD was to be celebrated annually at the diocesan level on Palm Sunday in Rome and at week-long events in different countries every two to three years .

World Youth Day 2011, Madrid: Firm In The Faith

By Maribel Tadong
World Youth Day 2011 SYM-Philippines Delegate (Pilgrim)

I always tell my friends that when I first dreamed of joining the 2011 WYD in Madrid, all I had back then were my bosses’ permission, my passport and enormous faith. I called it dreaming the impossible, ambitious dream, as I did not have enough funds for the trip.

I have this big picture of Blessed John Paul II on my altar. Every day, in the months before WYD Madrid, I would look at his picture before leaving for work and smile, silently asking him to help me with my preparations. It was the same prayer that I whispered to Don Bosco when his pilgrim relic visited the Philippines. With two saintly ‘heavyweights’ championing my cause how could our ever generous God refuse?

World Youth Day 2002, Toronto: A Blessed Journey Begins

By Avic Vera

From the start, I knew that God was leading me to make the WYD journey, the biggest blessing in my life. In 2000 I attended a retreat in Batulao with the famous Fr Armand Robleza SDB who talked about Yuppeace, an upbeat group of professional men and women, organized in 1995 to animate the Vigil for the WYD in Manila. Yuppeace has since evolved into a faith community living the WYD ideals.

I joined Yuppeace the year after, and soon became a facilitator in its various youth-centered activities. In 2002 the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) sent me and other Yuppeace facilitators as delegates to the WYD in Toronto, Canada.

World Youth Day Baby

By Xavier Alpasa SJ

All I wanted was to be rich. That was all I had in mind when I was trying to climb the corporate ladder. I gave it my all - worked hard, earned a Master's degree, networked and voila! There I was on top of the Eiffel Tower shouting a la Leonardo di Caprio, ‘I am the king of the world!’ That was in 1997, when I decided to join the Yuppeace delegation for the Journees Mondiales de la de Jeunesse (French for World Youth Day - fellow Yuppeace, Ricky Herrera, and I even took lessons to be able to, at least, pronounce that properly.

Days before the JMJ proper, we went to another part of Paris for the Asian Youth Day (AYD) with other Asians who would also be attending the JMJ. To our surprise, when the Indian delegates, assigned as emcees, didn’t show up, the organizers asked the Philippine delegation to take over. Issa Isaac and moi were soon onstage, impromptu AYD emcees with Fr Armand Robleza SDB, as le directeur.

World Youth Day 1995, Manila: A Call To Conversion

By Issa Isaac

Two weeks before the World Youth Day in Manila, I was asked by Fr Armand Robleza of Don Bosco to be one of the emcees of the Youth Vigil with the Pope. I thought it was just another hosting assignment. I was not aware of the WYD and knew nothing about it.

I grew up in a Catholic family but never really took my faith to heart. I did not know who Pope John Paul II really was. I did not see Sunday Mass as an obligation. I never had any Religion, Theology, Christian Living or catechism classes. I was more of an agnostic than a Catholic.