Vocations View: World Youth Day

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by Raney Johnson, Seminarian

I had the opportunity to attend my second World Youth Day (WYD) this past January in Panama. During this trip, I was able to encounter fellow young Catholics from around the world. The theme of World Youth Day was: “He aquí la sierva del Señor, Hágase en mí según tu palabra.” These words translated into English mean: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your Word.” The Blessed Virgin Mary says these words in St. Luke’s gospel. This passage of scripture was specifically chosen for the theme of WYD to emphasize the “Fiat” or “Yes” of Mary to God’s calling.  Throughout my time in Panama, the speakers continually emphasized Mary’s discernment in listening to God’s call and following that call.

One of my favorite parts of my second WYD was encountering the people in my group who were trying to listen to God’s voice in the same way as the Blessed Mother. The group I attended World Youth Day with was a sort of microcosm of the different vocations in the Church. There were religious sisters, a priest and two married men in my group. The group also contained young single Catholics discerning what God was asking them to do with their lives, as well as young men discerning vocations to the priesthood and a young woman discerning a vocation to the religious life. After talking with them about their different discernments, I began to reflect on my own discernment to the priesthood during my week in Panama.

I started to think about how three years earlier I had attended my first World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland after my first year of seminary. Then my mind went from the past into the future. I began to reflect on the next World Youth Day in 2022, and the fact that I might be a priest when it arrives. I began to reflect on my entire discernment of the diocesan priesthood, past, present and future, through the lens of World Youth Day. I imagined attending the next World Youth Day with a group of young Catholics discerning different vocations and celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass for them. This is an important part of WYD; it gives young Catholics from around the world the opportunity to reflect on what vocation God might be calling them to in the Church.

The Holy Father emphasized discernment by the youth in the Church when he celebrated Mass for us on the final day of our pilgrimage to Panama. Pope Francis encouraged us not to put off the discernment of our vocations, but to begin thinking about our vocations in the present.

If I could sum up my experience at World Youth Day, I would say that the Church is alive with young Catholics from around the world who seriously want to serve God and spread the Gospel message. So many young people are answering God’s call in the same way Mary did during the Annunciation. After attending World Youth Day twice, I hope that other young Catholics in the Diocese of Shreveport will have the same opportunity to experience this deeply spiritual event. The next World Youth Day will be in 2022 in Portugal, and I hope it will continue to help young Catholics discern their vocations.

2 Responses to Vocations View: World Youth Day

  1. Michael Mackey says:

    Hope all is well; was happy to know that WYD was a wonderful experience for you.Continue on your journey and God Bless.

  2. Cyprian Otieno says:

    Thanks Bro for sharing your experience with us,I was to Attend but I was unable hoping to see you in the next one which will be held in Portugal.God bless you.

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