By Renee Smith
The universal Church celebrated the Feast of Christ the King on November 20 while simultaneously celebrating the Church’s youth.
In 2021, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the call was made by Pope Francis to celebrate World Youth Day (WYD) in the local churches on the Feast day.
These ‘Diocesan World Youth Days’ will be observed in the years between the major intercontinental edition of the premiere Catholic event for young people. The most recent WYD was held in Panama City in 2019, with the next scheduled to take place in Lisbon, Portugal from July 26 – August 9, 2023.
Parishes across the Archdiocese of Port Spain were asked to do activities to celebrate youth in some way. Each Vicariate (North, South, Central, East, Suburban and Tobago) selected one parish to celebrate a WYD Mass where prayers of the faithful for youth, pilgrims and persons accompanying youth were included.
On Saturday, November 19, the delegation of young persons and their chaperones who will represent Trinidad and Tobago (and the Archdiocese of Port Spain) at WYD 2023, celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain. Just over 40 persons from the Archdiocese will attend WYD.
The chief celebrant at the Mass was Archbishop Jason Gordon. Vicar General and Cathedral Administrator, Fr Martin Sirju; local WYD Chaplain, Fr Kwesi Alleyne and Fr Mandanu Alphonse concelebrated; Deacons Lennox Toussaint and Peter Timothy assisted.
The entrance procession included an icon of a Cross which incorporates the WYD 2023 symbols and representations of T&T.
The local WYD logo/Cross would be a feature at all WYD events and activities. The liturgy also included a dance for the Presentation of Gifts by youth members of the Liturgical Dance Team of St Anthony’s Parish, Petit Valley.
In his homily, Archbishop Gordon said, “I ask every young person to make a sacrifice every single day… because Jesus sacrificed everything for us.” Sacrificing, the Archbishop explained is giving up something “good” for “something even better to help remind ourselves that Jesus is our King”.
He also recalled the theme for WYD 2023, Mary arose and went with haste (Lk 1:39). The biblical phrase opens the account of the Visitation (Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth), a biblical episode following the Annunciation (the angel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God, from which came the theme of the last WYD, in Panama). Addressing not just the WYD pilgrims but all gathered, the Archbishop made a call to follow the Examen prayer process daily.
Before the end of Mass, the Episcopal Delegate for Youth, Taresa Best Downes honoured the contributions of all young people and youth leaders to Church and society. This was followed by special blessings from Archbishop Gordon.