In the Shrine of Our Lady of the Conception of Aparecida, Pope Francis invited the youth gathered in Brasil from all parts of the world to be open, and ready to be “surprised by God”. The World Youth Day pilgrimage to Brazil has been indeed for many South African youth a “surprise of God”.
Among the many groups of South African pilgrims, the youth of the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way from Cape Town and Pretoria went on this journey, looking for a personal meeting with Jesus Christ that may touch and change their lives. In the days prior to the meeting with Pope Francis they traveled across the country, experiencing God’s providing grace through the hospitality of brothers and sisters of some of the 1,000 Neocatechumenal Communities present in Brazil.
Fr. Federico Kennedy, a missionary priest in Cape Town, has led the group. “My true joy in this journey has been to see the explosion of joy of the youth!”
To be spiritually prepared to the meeting with the Pope they stopped along the way announcing the Good News in the Brazilian city centers of Jundiai, Itatiba, Itu!
The vigil with the Pope in Copacabana has been for all an intense moment of adoration and encounter with God. “The Pope spoke about love, during the final Mass”, said Elodie, one of the pilgrims, “and this love is what I have been experiencing these days, during this journey together with this group, a love stronger than the one I ever experienced in my family or anywhere else”.
After every World Youth Day the Neocatechumenal Way has been organizing Vocational Meetings, moved by the desire to gather the first fruits of the event!
This year’s meeting was attended by an estimated 50,000 youth from all over the world.
The meeting took place in a Congress Center in Rio, attended by 5 cardinals and 75 bishops and archbishops.
The youth listened in an absolute stillness to the moving preaching of Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and Fr. Mario Pezzi and at the end of the meeting Kiko asked all the youth who felt in their heart the call to follow the Lord, to stand up and confirm this calling by coming up on the stage, to receive a blessing from one of the bishops.
An unbelievable crowd of 3,000 young men began a procession to the stage, answering the call to enter the seminary; followed by 2,000 young women who answered the call to enter the consecrated life. Among them, 9 men and 4 women from the South African group!
“This call is just the beginning of a process of discernment. I stood up to do the will of God”, said one of the young ladies from South Africa who felt the calling, “but now I know only one thing: I am full of joy and happy!”
“The pilgrimage begins now” said Fr. Lorenzo Ricci of the responsible team of the Neocatechumenal Way for Southern Africa, “the real pilgrimage is now to go back home, in our families and environments, and make all people disciples, as Pope Francis asked us to do!”