Limerick ‘team’ lands in Lisbon for World Youth Day, joining one million pilgrims at special celebration
Tuesday 1 August 2023: A Limerick team of a different kind has departed for Lisbon for an event described as similar to a pilgrimage to All-Ireland Final day.
A group of 15 young adults and five mentors jetted out for the Portuguese capital where up to 1million young people from across the world will gather for the first post-pandemic World Youth Day celebrations.
Pope Francis’ theme for this year’s event is all about challenging young people to become courageous missionaries, consistent with his very first World Youth Day as pontiff a decade ago when he urged young people to make a “mess”, to shake things up by helping the church “get closer to the people”.
While titled ‘World Youth Day’, the celebration began on Tuesday, August 1st, runs right through to Sunday and is attended by Pope Francis from Wednesday until its close.
The Limerick group of 15 delegates, who departed for Lisbon early on Monday, is led by Director of Youth Ministry and Lifelong Faith Development at Limerick Diocese James Connery and joined by Bishop Brendan Leahy and Fr. Chris O’Donnell of Limerick Youth Ministry, who likened each day of the pilgrimage to All-Ireland Sunday.
“There's a sea of colour, flags are being waved proudly, there's singing and chanting and a tremendous atmosphere of joy and togetherness. On All-Ireland Sundays this joy revolves around the love of the game, the passion for your team and the shared sense of togetherness and excitement among the supporters. World Youth Day magnifies the joy as everyone is supporting the one team, the one faith, the one God,” said Fr Chris.
“The joy is tangible and infectious, and it is incredible to see so many young people proud to show and share their passion for the faith, for Pope Francis and for the Church. After a successful Ireland final fans, both young and old, return home and want to share the joy. It hopefully is the same for those who experience the joy of World Youth Day. Young people return home more alive and more secure in their faith. Buoyed by the experience of a living and loving faith, they are more willing to witness to it and share it in a country that badly needs to rediscover its soul and depth and meaning. Luimneach abú, Íosa abú.”
Said Bishop Leahy: “I’ve been to several World Youth Days and they are an amazing experience. I remember one young person saying they enjoyed the World Youth Day because while there they realised it could be ‘cool’ to be a Catholic! The energy and liveliness give everyone a real lift. As Pope Francis said somewhere – ‘Christ is alive and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life’. That’s certainly a conviction you come away with from a World Youth Day.”
For more information on World Youth Day, see: https://www.lisboa2023.org/en