Pope to WYD volunteers: Keep riding the waves of love and charity

In the final WYD event on his schedule, Pope Francis thanks the 25 thousand World Youth Day volunteers from 150 countries for their wonderful generosity, service and faith.

By Thaddeus Jones

In his final meeting with young people in Lisbon on Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis met with 25 thousand World Youth Day volunteers at another large outdoor event on a sun-baked afternoon there. The volunteers came from around the world representing 150 countries. 

Celebration and joy

The event began with a video featuring video highlights of World You day as a way to relive the intense and joyous days of celebration and joy. Participants from around the world shared their experience of the celebrations in a video collage of interviews interspersed with moments from the WYD events.

Then three young participants offered their own live testimonies telling the Pope about their experience of World Youth Day and how it transformed them and their faith.

Chiara from Germany working in youth ministry said the WYD events gave her a tangible experience of God's boundless love and acceptance. She added that it marked a powerful experience of being part of a Church that represents so many people from around the world, a real family, and a beautiful mosaic of cultures and believers in the one God searching for His love. 

Francisco from Portugal just graduated from college, but spent the past year assisting in the preparations for WYD as a volunteer. He said it's been a real journey and hard work, but a wonderful experience of inner growth and seeing Jesus in others, especially their smiles.

Then Filipe, a volunteer also from Portugal, spoke about how WYD helped him draw closer to the Lord and recognize the Lord in every person he met. He expressed his lifelong mission to serve Christ and others for peace in our world. 

Thank you to all

The Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, then thanked the Pope for his presence and participation, saying everyone will carry the experiences in their hearts and memories. He thanked the volunteers for their great dedication, calling them the "World Youth Day 2023 generation".

Pope Francis then read parts of his prepared address and spoke ad lib, expressing his profound gratitude and praising everyone for their hard work making these unforgettable days possible. Recalling how everyone labored for months, behind the scenes with little fanfare, they set an example as a real team and service for all. 

Joy of service

The Pope said despite the fatigue he could see on their faces at times, he always noticed that their eyes glowed "with the joy of service."  He thanked them for their generosity, rushing to meet others and to serve them "in the name of Jesus."

Recalling the testimonies of Chiara, Francisco and Filipe, the Pope observed how all three spoke of "a special encounter with Jesus" and how that "most beautiful" experience became the "engine" that helps us move in earnest and keep going in our life of faith and service. 

“Renewing the personal encounter with Jesus every day is the heart of the Christian life.”

The Pope encouraged young volunteers to renew their encounter with Jesus every day not just in the head but also in the heart. It's also a double encounter, he noted, an encounter with Jesus and an encounter with Him in the others we meet and help.

Be "surfers of love"

In conclusion, the Pope recalled that north of Lisbon is the coastal town of Nazaré where at times the waves coming in off the ocean can reach 30 meters in height, a world attraction for visitors and surfers. The Pope said the volunteers encountered such high waves with the million and half young people who poured into Lisbon for World Youth Day but with God's help and their generosity and support, they were able to ride them out.

“Keep riding the waves of love, the waves of charity, be "surfers of love!"”

Full video of the meeting with WYD volunteers

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06 August 2023, 19:18