I like to think of World Youth Day as a festival of joy, where young people from every part of the world are able to come together, to openly and proudly celebrate their faith. For me, the most significant faith experiences occur during moments where we become linked to other young people, not through language or particular interests or talents, but by the common thread that runs through us all; our Catholic faith. It may be whilst singing a song, saying a prayer or even playing a game. The love and passion for life that is spread via this common thread is incredibly moving.
In particular, it is the uniquely Salesian sense of fun that I find truly inspiring. Upon meeting young Salesians from all over the world, the strength and unity of Salesianity became very obvious to me. Although I was unable to physically converse with many of the pilgrims that I met, I felt as if words were almost entirely unnecessary. We were able to understand each other through simple actions of dancing, singing and laughing together. Through encounters such as these, I felt as if I had experienced not only Catholicism but also Salesianity at its very core. The values that link us as a global community are contagious; they are caught, not taught.
On a personal level, these experiences highlight and reinforce the importance of living as a witness to the gospel through every aspect of our lives. The events and encounters in Madrid serve as evidence as to how the message of Jesus is not only relevant, but of vital importance to the lives of young people, particularly in our world today. As a Salesian young person, I feel empowered by the joy and goodness that I was able to be a part of, which leaves me with a strong desire to positively influence society through living Jesus’ message of love in all that I do.