WYD in Lisbon has been an experience that has impacted both participants and spectators with different intensities and in different ways. For a city like Lisbon, with a population of just over half a million people, receiving the influx of 1.5 million young people was a great challenge, but also a moment of joy and rejuvenation. Despite the pressure on the city and the locals, Lisbon showed a high degree of preparation and adaptation during the development of this memorable event.
The large number of young people with their flags and chanting slogans in the streets did not generate any nervousness on the police forces, as a similar mass of people would have done at the exit of a soccer match. Some shopkeepers praised the good manners and politeness of the young people who entered their stores to buy souvenirs or refreshments.
The WYD in Lisbon revealed the vitality of a young and truly Catholic Church; that of a joyful Church that is capable of going out of itself to meet the other, and that is capable of facing the confusions and challenges of the present time. It is a Church that in its diversity and welcoming expresses its catholicity; in fact, 151 countries were represented, linked to different dioceses, movements, religious communities, educational institutions, etc.
Precisely, one of the evangelizing elements of WYD for young people is this catholicity, that is, the ability to feel part of something bigger, which goes beyond our individuality or our small group. Despite linguistic and cultural differences, young people at the WYD shared the same lights and shadows, the same fears and hopes, but above all the same catholic faith. The sense of pilgrimage, of “going forth”, with all its challenges and discomforts, represents a metaphor for life and Christian faith, because existence and faith only find their meaning in a continuous communication of the individual self with the Other. According to a GAD3 survey, 94% of the young people indicated that they were going to WYD to “discover themselves through Jesus Christ”, which reflects this dynamic of going out and searching; it is about feeling called and sent at the same time; it is about being mission on earth, as Pope Francis had already pointed out at WYD 2018.
And it is precisely here that the young Redemptorists find their identity as missionaries. The Pope indicated to the young people that joy is missionary and should be taken to others. It was a fact that throughout WYD and the Alphonsian Day, the young people spread their joy, the same joy that now, upon their return, they are carrying back to their communities. This is a mission that they will continue to explore and strengthen under the light and inspiration of the Redemptorist charism.
RYVM General Commission
See below the video message from Fr. General Rogério Gomes, CSsR, to the participants of Alphonsian Day in Lisbon, organised at the Mother of God Parish in Buraca on August 2 and the video summary of this joyful meeting.