By Renee Smith
I always feel so many emotions travelling to a new country: anxious, excited, impatience, joy.
It is my first time travelling to Europe and my first pilgrimage. Throughout my time here in Portugal, I have these moments thinking about how I got to this point that makes the entire experience so surreal.
Whatever time you’re reading this, know that even though I’m just recounting Day 2 of my pilgrimage with the T&T contingent, I can already say Portugal and its people are absolutely beautiful.
It is hard not to feel like home in the humble municipality of Louredo, located in Porto, where Trinbagonians and other pilgrims will reside before journeying to WYD activities in August.
We were even welcomed like loved ones on our first day with much spectacle. In addition to the church bells of Sao Cristavao chiming the arrival of the Trinis, we were treated with a reception that night with vibrant music from the parishioners, blessings from their parish priest and sharing of food and drink.
Our first celebration of Holy Mass in Portugal took place today (July 28) and reminded me we can experience God’s love regardless of the country we come from.
If you have not experienced your Catholic faith in a foreign country yet, add it to your bucket list! Mass found us cramped, sometimes hot, sometimes cold (depending on where the draft blew), sitting in the aisles, standing due to absolutely no seating and yet we paid reverence; we worshipped; we gave thanks.
It is an indescribable feeling hearing hundreds speaking in their native tongue, lifting their voices in praise to God. This is our faith: a call to unity, a call to oneness, a call to do onto others because God lives in each of us.
It can sometimes feel daunting communicating and even living with someone who does not speak your native tongue. And while yes, so many (many) things have been lost in translation over the last 48 hours, we have still laughed, hugged, and said “saúde” (cheers) through it all.
To my CatholicTT family back home, I ask of you to keep wide open, your spiritual eyes and heart.
For “We share in His love,
We share in His love
One body of Christ
Washed in His blood
The blood of The Lamb
His body alive
Reunited in love,
Bonded by sacrifice.
Living as one
Sharing as one…one Body of Christ”
I’ll be reporting the journey of our T&T pilgrims at World Youth Day. Purchase a copy of The Catholic News weekly or follow the journey online @catholicnewstt