Fadi Creta, WYD volunteer from Egypt (Vatican Media) Fadi Creta, WYD volunteer from Egypt (Vatican Media) 

Volunteering at WYD: Giving back the joy felt as a pilgrim

Fadi Creta, an Egyptian volunteer at World Youth Day in Lisbon, speaks about the relevance of Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Journey to South Sudan and his personal “resurrection” after a period of depression.

By Francesca Merlo and Edoardo Giribaldi

Fadi Creta is one of the many volunteers at World Youth Day that have received Pope Francis’ praise and gratitude “for their great service” to the 1.5 million pilgrims who have come to Lisbon, Portugal.

Speaking at the end of Mass on Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the 25,000 WYD volunteers who hail from 150 countries, of whom two-thirds are women and whose average age is 28-years-old.

Experience something new

Amongst the volunteers is 39-year-old Fadi Creta, who hails from Egypt and who recently served in South Sudan being due to work in Uganda after WYD.

Speaking to Francesca Merlo in Lisbon, Mr. Creta underlined his commitment to dedicate more of his time to other people and “to be a small piece of the puzzle completing this big image of World Youth Day.”

The WYD in Portugal was the sixth for Mr. Creta, who started as a pilgrim in 2000 in Rome. 

This year, he wanted “to experience something new, helping people” and giving back “the joy” he gained “as a pilgrim.”

Fadi Creta, WYD volunteer from Egypt (Vatican Media)
Fadi Creta, WYD volunteer from Egypt (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis in South Sudan

Mr. Creta vividly remembered Pope Francis’ recent visit to South Sudan, and the continuous clashes in the northern part of the country, even after the world's youngest nation gain independence in 2011.

He noted that the help of the Church “and the Pope himself” as mediators in South Sudan's conflict was fundamental. “He invited all the people, the political parties in South Sudan, to help build peace again, to build trust between people and tribes.”

“Here again, we see Jesus, the love of Jesus, in the people that, even in the war, can find a way, a bridge.”

Mr. Creta remembered how “super happy” people were during Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to South Sudan, which took place on 31 January - 5 February 2023.

He said it was as if “Jesus was there, visiting them. This gave them hope for the future.”

God at the center

The volunteer also shared his personal story of “resurrection” after years of focusing only on “work and myself.”

“Without seeing anyone, I went through a period of depression,” he recounted. “I started to understand that the idea is not to gain money and be at the center.”

"I am not the center; it’s always God the center," said Mr. Creta. "Whenever I find myself near God, I am living well."

Mr. Creta's encounter with God has encouraged him to enter “a new life” and find a way out of depression.

“I went to Lebanon and stayed there almost one year, living a spiritual experience,” Mr. Creta concluded, “and I lived again.”

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06 August 2023, 15:45