“This is the Pope’s youth!”: RYM-VP Manila at World Youth Day-Lisbon 2023


The Redemptorist VP Manila sent three youth delegates for World Youth Day (Arnel Padilla, Nemalyn Agcaoili, and Elmarc Lim) and two professed (Fr. Allan Edward Pandaan, C.Ss.R., and Fr. Mark Anthony Benedicto, C.Ss.R.).

The group first participated in the Days in the Dioceses and spent the first week in Bajouca Parish. The journey in Bajouca was exemplary. It was an introduction to culture and faith. The language was never a hindrance for them to experience Bajouca or the Portuguese culture. They were all unfamiliar and afraid because it was a new place; however, their experience in Bajouca allowed them to share that they could have a home away from home. Every family in Bajouca welcomes them with open hearts; they open their door to the delegates and treat them as a family. Never as a stranger in Bajouca, they experience how to become Portuguese. They experience to become their children. Moreover, their Catholic Faith was strengthened in these Days in the Dioceses; it enables them to understand that God works in every culture and walks of life.

For the World Youth Day proper, the delegates were accommodated at the Redemptorist Parish at Damaia (Igreja Paroquial do Santíssimo Redentor da Damaia). It was indeed a pilgrimage, too much walking. Sometimes, they were lost on their way to the venue, left behind by the train and buses, but it was a fulfilling and revitalizing experience for all. 

“Esta es la juventud del Papa!” (This is the Pope’s youth) You will hear these repeated words throughout the gathering and the enthusiastic voices that will raise your heart with joy.  

Some would comment that WYD is just a gathering of noisy and loud youth, a gathering of crowded people, and a crowd that disrupts the places. Or it is nothing but a gathering of delinquent individuals. 


World Youth Day may be loud or noisy, but it is the voices of every youth who wants to be heard and acknowledged. They wish that their voices become part of our Catholic Faith, our moral decisions, and our political milieu. Every voice and loud cheering of the youth is the voice that will soon echo in our faith. Their voices can tell us that we must, too, listen to them, that we must also allow the voice of the youth to resound in the Church. Therefore, they are not just noises and loud voices but the voice of the youthful God. 

The crowd of the youth, hopefully, would reflect in the Church—a crowd of youthful believers. It is not true that the Church is old and dying; our only dilemma is that we do not give space for the youth. We do not allow them to lead. We do not allow them to shepherd their youth and to shepherd the Church. Youth ministry is for and with the youth. Give them space, and they will fill it with joy and service. Give them a space in the Church, and they will make it anew and alive; and make it a sacred space. 

Youth gathering is not just a disruption of the place; however, their presence must disrupt complacency. The Church must not only stick to what we have but allow the creative minds of the youth to disrupt our traditions and create an inclusive ministry for all. Let the youth update us on the language of the world today. And let the Gospel take root in their world. Let their presence disturb our lazy ministry and be alive again. Youth are not just delinquent individuals, but they are empowered individuals. They are empowered by the Spirit of the Lord, ready to be on the streets, to mingle with people, and to move forward for mission. 

As Pope Francis said to all the delegates of World Youth Day: “You are not a number but a face loved by God. There’s room for everyone because we are loved by God. And do not fear; go ahead. Let us go together.” 

Every young person still has a long way to go, but the Church will reap from the youth’s hope, vision and mission. We are the Youth of the Church, the youth of the Pope, and the WE ARE THE YOUTH OF CHRIST! 

“Esta es la juventud del Papa!”

Fr. Allan Edward O. Pandaan, C.Ss.R.
RYM Youth Convenor
Baclaran Community Local Vocation Promoter