By Anthony Zammit Teacher

World Youth Day, held every three to four years, is a global gathering where millions of young people from around the world are invited to deepen their faith and experience the universality of the Catholic Church. This year, Olivia M (10BA), Maya S (10LI) and I were fortunate to partake in World Youth Day in Portugal.

A theme that resonated profoundly with us was Pope Francis’ message of embracing others with open arms.

“The only time that we are allowed to look down upon others: when we are offering to help them up” (Pope Francis – Saturday 5 August 2023).

Pope Francis’ words remind us to open our arms to those around us and to reach out to those in need. In doing so, we not only contribute to the amelioration of our own lives but also contribute to the creation of a more compassionate and harmonious world where we can all experience the ‘fullness of life’ (John 10:10), the very essence of our College motto.

Maya states, “My highlight was getting to see Pope Francis closer than I could have ever imagined. Pope Francis touched on how we are all unique in our pathway to God and that really stuck with me. Just because your relationship with God right now may not look picture perfect, it does not mean you are undeserving of His love. The main event was the Sleep Out Vigil, where we walked 13km to an open field in preparation for the Mass with Pope Francis. They were not kidding when they told us it was not a holiday, but a pilgrimage. While the 38-degree walk did make me question why I was there, I would do it all again. The friendships that I have formed and the new outlook I have on my faith has gladly been brought back here to Australia.”

Olivia also reflects, “The community atmosphere that was felt every single day was inspirational and something that I hope to bring back to our school. The kind and friendly atmosphere made it easy to open myself up to new connections and opportunities and I was able to form bonds that will last a lifetime. Being able to hear Pope Francis speak about belonging and being there for each other was the highlight of the trip for me. He spoke about the way we can learn to be better people and how we can form strong connections and bonds through our faith. This experience moved me deeply and is something that I know is going to stay with me for the rest of my life.”

I had an incredible opportunity to meet and listen to inspirational leaders within the Catholic Church, including Fr Stephen Wang (Rector of the Vulnerable English College in Rome), Sr Nathalie Becquart (Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops) and Archbishop Rino Fisichella (Pro-Prefect for the Section of New Evangelization) before a once in a lifetime meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican City. Pope Francis summarised the search for truth and strengthen the spiritual development of each person by two things; he said, “Do you pray and how do you pray”? We are reminded about the importance of listening in the middle of the noise, listening to God’s invitation, listening to others’ needs to develop our spiritual being and search for meaning and truth.

World Youth Day invites us to be the light that continues to shine within us. It is an opportunity to encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit as youth gather to serve the risen Christ. The theme of World Youth Day 2023, Mary arose and went with haste, reminds us of our responsibility to focus on the presence of the risen Christ in our lives and to encounter Him in all that we do. This can be achieved by our college motto, Live Fully Act Justly, as we build relationships with one another and to act on Christ’s words, “Love one another as I have loved you”.

Subscribe to our newsletter