SA Youth Tell About Fruits of World Youth Day!
Two World Youth Day pilgrims are taking to heart the appeal by national youth chaplain Fr Mthembeni Dlamini CMM to share their life-changing experiences in their parishes and communities.
Andrea Giuricich from Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Rivonia, Johannesburg, and Keanan August from St Timothy’s parish in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, were among the about 150 pilgrims who represented South Africa at WYD in Panama.
Both say they returned from WYD feeling joyful, fulfilled, and with a newfound confidence to share the Gospel with others.
Andrea said he’ll treasure the memory of saying, “Here I am Lord”, together with 1 million Catholic youth from over 100 nations.
He believes that the youth need to be the living Church on earth — every day, and not just once a week.
“The true strength of the Church was evident to me by the sheer number of pilgrims who gathered in Panama out of choice,” he said.
“I realised that God’s voice is like a whisper, which is always there, but first, you have to listen out for it. One of the key WYD messages was Mary’s fiat—saying yes to God’s call and using your successes as a way to live the Word,” said Andrea, who went to Panama with his sister Victoria, an aspiring model who has featured in The Southern Cross.
“Using WYD as inspiration, we are planning to grow and enrich the youth group at our parish, to collectively answer yes, as Mary did—and collectively take a stand as the youth to live our faith.”
Since returning from WYD, Andrea, who studies in Pretoria, has pledged to go to Mass twice a week.
He has addressed his Rivonia community, inviting young people “interested in becoming part of the living Word” to speak to him “to grow youth activities in the parish”, and has also given a talk at Opus Dei seminary on his WYD experience.
Capetonian Keanan August said he felt inspired by Pope Francis’ words at WYD, which helped him realised that the hope, energy and inspiration he experienced during those two weeks in Panama could be a part of his daily life.
Gathering with so many young Catholics from around the world gave him energy. One of the most profound realisations at WYD was that the Church is bigger than his own limited experience of it.
“There is a hope that you feel, knowing that we are able to come together as Catholics from every country and be proud of who we are, together. As the youth, we need to have faith and we need to have initiative. We are in charge of future generations and the now,” he said.
After returning from Panama, Keanan made a two-week visit to KwaZulu-Natal where he shared his experience with youth from rural communities and motivated them to take part in Church activities and “make a difference in their parishes”.
“Pope Francis said at the closing Mass that young people ‘are not the future but the now’,” Keanan said. “So let’s focus on ourselves now, and make a difference. Just because we are young doesn’t mean we are incapable of creating change and improvements in our parishes.”
Andrea said spiritual life cannot be separated from everyday life. “Our faith needs to pervade every aspect of our lives, and we all need to take a stand within our communities, families and our country as a whole,” he said.
Both young men are looking forward to attending the next World Youth Day in Portugal in 2022.