Catholics Gather in Rio for World Youth Day
Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 01:08
Twelve Georgetown students joined thousands of Catholics on a pilgrimage to Brazil for World Youth Day this summer.
The festival, held once every three years in a different city, was organized by the Roman Catholic Church to engage young people with the Catholic faith. The 2013 event in Rio de Janeiro was held one year early to avoid conflict with the 2014 World Cup.
After raising $2,200 each from friends and family for the trip, the Georgetown group met 2,000 students from Jesuit universities for Magis in Salvador, Brazil, before heading on a pilgrimage to Sao Paulo and other cities and reconvening in Rio for final WYD festivities.
Director of Catholic Campus Ministry Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. — one of two chaperones on the trip — emphasized the importance of raising money by “begging” for donations as pilgrims have done for centuries.
“When we beg … it’s humbling,” Rogers said. “When we arrive in country, there’s that reminder that it’s not your trip. We go to represent Georgetown, not ourselves.”
The 2,000 students were split into groups of 20 for service projects around Brazil. Though most Georgetown students were sent to Sao Paulo, some went to other areas of the country with students from other universities.
“I’ve done service projects but what made the circumstances unique was because we were randomly divided up … you might end up knowing only one other person [in your group],” Anebi Adoga (COL ’16) said.
Projects included installing an irrigation system in the countryside and working in a local shelter.
“It was very rewarding because these are people with whom few of us have the ability to communicate, as much on a linguistic level as on a life-experience level,” Esteban Garcia (SFS ’15), who worked in the shelter, said. “Those of us who have the privilege of studying and the privilege of being full-time students don’t know what it is to be homeless or don’t know what it is to struggle to find work.”
After the missionary week, the 2,000 students went to Rio for five days of activities for World Youth Day. The Georgetown group saw the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio; attended Mass celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York; and saw Pope Francis, who was in Brazil on his first trip abroad as pope.
“We ran outside as he came by in a silver Fiat,” Adoga said. “It was an incredible experience.”
Garcia said that seeing the pope was the highlight of his trip.
“It was really emotional. I didn’t think that I was going to have the reaction that I did,” he said. “To see our first Jesuit pope and our first pope from the Americas and a pope who seems to be a new voice was very, very exciting and emotional for me.”
Adoga offered advice for future World Youth Day pilgrims from Georgetown.
“For those considering travelling to a future World Youth Day, have an open mind and be prepared for anything,” he said “It will allow the trip to have a greater impact on you.”