By Renee Smith
If you weren’t at Holy Faith Convent, Couva on Saturday, July 22, you missed out on a mini-pilgrimage, a celebration of youth, an expression of the local Church and an intense moment of evangelisation for young people.
The Archdiocese’s World Youth (WYD) Village was a spin-off of the Church’s WYD which will be celebrated in Lisbon, Portugal this year, August 1–6.
The Village created a space where the youth connected with one another, their faith, and their community on a profound level. The theme was RISE UP! – a verb common to the themes of the WYD messages in Lisbon like “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Lk 7:14).
The layout of the WYD Village set the tone for the day with Community Corridor, Self-Street, Love and Family House, Integral Ecology Park, No Cap Square, Productivity Place and Prophet, Priest and King Hall.
Each was uniquely inspiring and delivering powerful messages of hope, love, and purpose. Through a series of captivating activities, enlightening discussions, and heartfelt worship, participants were able to embark on a spiritual journey while having fun.
Young individuals bravely stepped forward to share their personal stories of faith, transformation, and resilience. These testimonials serve as beacons of hope, reminding everyone that no journey is without challenges.
The raw authenticity of these narratives encouraged empathy and solidarity among the participants.
And yet, amidst the hustle and bustle of the day, for five minutes the Village stood still to pray the ‘Angelus’ followed by Christian Meditation – the process of deliberately focusing on God through a word, phrase, or Bible passage. Attendees also had access to the chapel to engage in silent contemplation and priests were available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Youth called to RISE UP from the mud
The event came to a crescendo with an open-air Mass and the commissioning of the local contingent who will participate in WYD. Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon was the chief celebrant and concelebrating were Frs Mikhail Woodruffe O Carm, Kenwyn Sylvester and Deacon Andy Singh.
To rise up from the mud, the Archbishop called the faithful to recognise three things: Recognise you are in the mud; Recognise when there is bad seed sown in our hearts and when we are cultivating that bad seed, and Recognise God’s intention is for us to be a saint and He gives us every deed to become a saint.
He also made a call for Catholic youth to do daily prayer, adoration, be charitable and make the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“If you fall into the mud, I ask you to rise up. Go through the sacraments for that healing balm,” Archbishop Gordon said.
At the end of Mass, the Episcopal Delegate for Youth, Taresa Best Downes gave thanks to the many individuals, groups, ministries, and sponsors that made the Village possible. “I thank the mature adults for showing up and supporting the young people and we need to do more of that. I thank the young people for coming out today and I hope you had a lovely day.”
The local WYD pilgrims were commissioned by the Archbishop and asked to shine the Trinbagonian flame bright during their journey. With hearts aflame and spirits renewed, the youth leave for the event as ambassadors of their faith, determined to spread love, unity, and compassion to the world around them.