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Ésta es la juventud del papa!

Pope Francis, accompanied by Cardinal Manuel Clemente of Lisbon, Portugal, arrives at Tejo Park in Lisbon for the closing World Youth Day Mass Aug. 6, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Catholic News reporter Renée Smith was among the group of 35 local pilgrims who attended the World Youth Day celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal. She has been recording her experiences but among the many highlights was the euphoria at seeing Pope Francis.

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If I could just see his head!”

“If I could just glimpse his face!”

These were some of the sentiments heard while awaiting the arrival of The Holy Father at Parque Eduardo VII.

It’s the day after our T&T contingent attended the Opening Ceremony of World Youth Day (August 4), the reception of The Holy Father. I am still in disbelief that we were shared the same space with Pope Francis – the man you read about online or only see on television.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything but a tiny bit of the back of his head from my vantage point.

The line from this year’s World Youth Day Theme Song accurately described the atmosphere as we waited the arrival of the Pope: “Can you feel the thrill in the air?”

As I write, the jubilation in Lisbon, Portugal is indescribable. That night when I spoke to my mom I said, “I can write and capture these things on my phone, but you just had to be there!” The closest vibe to it is like a T&T Carnival.

While I see so much promise and hope for the youth of our Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago, I feel even more so for the universal Church as youth chanted and sang praises to God loudly and publicly welcomed their Shepherd.

And yet when the Pope spoke in his quiet, soothing voice the crowds fell silent, hanging on to his every word even though he only spoke in his native tongue. I didn’t mind training my ear to understand him in Spanish as I have working knowledge of the language but to my left and right, I saw very young persons silently get a feed on radio or online to get the translation of his feature address.

It really warmed my heart to see how interested those young people (like me) were.