Oblate Youth Service work ~ World Youth Day

My World Youth Day Experience


World Youth Day - The Journey & Expectations

World Youth Day IrelandIt was a bright morning when we left Dublin on the bus to Belfast. The sun was beating down on us and we took it to be a positive sign that all would go well on our travels to Germany. Cologne was the chosen city for 2005 in which World Youth Day would be celebrated by other young people from all corners of the globe. From Belfast we flew to Birmingham, where we were united with the other young members of the Oblate Youth Service. That night we had mass, where we quietly reflected on what we hoped to experience at World Youth Day and what had brought us to this point e.g. family, friends, our faith. After the mass, we all sang songs and the more musically gifted members of our group accompanied us with guitars and an accordion. It was a good way to break the ice and by the end of the music session, we were chatting away like old friends.  

World Youth Day - Oblate Youth Encounter

The next day we set of for Hunfeld, which would be the first stage of our trip. Hasselstein was to be our host town which was five miles from Hunfeld and when we arrived there after a two hour plane journey and a long bus ride, their warmth and kindness was Ireland World Youth Dayvery much appreciated. Each family in the town took two or three of us into their homes and gave us beds and as much food as we could possibly eat. The next day we went with our host families to an open air celebration of youth organised by the Oblates at their centre at Hunfeld. At this celebration there were young people from Oblate parishes from all over the world. We had great fun with an Oblate group from Australia. We tried to educate them about the ins and outs of Irish slang and the reasons why Cavan is by far the most superior county in Ireland; needless to say not everyone was in agreement on that conversation. It was a great day of celebration and the fact that we had the opportunity to talk to other young people from different cultural backgrounds gave us a taste of another world. 

World Youth Day - Cologne

World Youth Day IrishAfter four days it was time to say goodbye to our host families, which was surprisingly a very hard thing to do. They had become like family over the short period of time and real friendships had been formed. Still we knew it was time to move on to the second stage of our journey so after swapping email addresses and phone numbers we prepared ourselves for another long bus journey. When we reached Cologne we could feel the excitement in the air and the streets were a hive of activity. We met our new host families and once again began the process of getting to know new people and sharing with them some of our experiences from Hasselstein.

World Youth Day Experience IrelandCologne was very different to Hasselstein in that it was a huge city with beautiful buildings and lots of streets for me to get lost in, which I did numerous times but I was never let stray too far. In the evening Fr. Leo and Fr. Peter give us time to reflect on our time spent in Germany. In this time we would all sit together in a circle with a candle burning in the middle of us. We sang songs and some of us shared some of our thoughts about the trip and the things that had touched us since we had been there. This was refreshing in the sense that we had the time to just think, which can be a luxury we don’t give ourselves in everyday life because of the constant rush mentality that we often subject ourselves to.

World Youth Day - The Mass

World Youth Day Cologne 2005Finally the day came for us to go to the main arena where Pope Benedict XVI would arrive. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was chanting the Pope’s name. It was evident to see that the Catholic faith was very much present in the youth of today. The mass that was said by Pope Benedict XVI could be viewed on screens all around the huge field for those who were too far away to see him. When it was all over there was still a good atmosphere in the air and we sang songs as we made our way back to our bus. Unfortunately there was a slight problem with the buses and we ended up walking a lot further than any of us had anticipated but since we’d been fed so well all that week, it probably didn’t do us any harm.

World Youth Day - My Reflections

World Youth Day MassWe finished of the last stages of our journey in Mintz where we spent the last few days relaxing and sight seeing. To summarise the whole trip is hard because sometimes you can’t put words to things that really move you. For me the warmth of the people in Hasselstein will stay with me forever and be a constant reminder what faith in action really is. To be part of World Youth Day is to be part of a collective movement wanting to celebrate all that is good in being young and feeling that you have a spiritual direction in your life. It’s also about removing yourself from that collective and focusing on how you as a person live your life and whether or not it matches the way you want to live. This is important because no-one else can do it for you and for me World Youth Day offered such an opportunity. Therefore I will finish off by saying that Germany is a wonderful country with wonderful people and it was an experience of a lifetime that will last a lifetime.

Mass World Youth Day