Tasmania’s pilgrims at World Youth Day Panama

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Home > Media > News > Tasmania’s pilgrims at World Youth Day Panama
Tasmania’s pilgrims at World Youth Day Panama

Discovering a love for the Eucharist, witnessing answers to prayer and personal growth in faith have been just some of the experiences Tasmanian pilgrims have brought home with them from World Youth Day in Panama.

From January 16 Tasmania’s pilgrims spent two and half weeks in Costa Rica and Panama, experiencing the Catholic faith with more than half a million fellow pilgrims from around the world who travelled to meet Pope Francis.
The Tasmanian pilgrims spent the pre-WYD week in Costa Rica staying with local families and taking part in Masses, Eucharistic adoration, missionary outreach and a procession through the streets of San Jose organised by the Shalom community, a Catholic community which originated in Brazil.
Many of the Tasmanian pilgrims commented that taking part in Eucharistic adoration with the Shalom community gave them a greater love for adoration.

"I loved it when the monstrance was processed among the people, and seeing people cry out to Jesus in the Eucharist. From now on, I'm going to be more vulnerable before the Eucharist,” said Daniel de la Motte, 30, from Blackman’s Bay.

After a 25-hour bus ride from Costa Rica to Panama, the World Youth Day week saw the group take part in daily catechesis, as well as large-scale events like the opening Mass and welcoming Pope Francis. However, it was the way the group learnt to rely on prayer when things didn’t go to plan that Director of Youth Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Hobart Tomasz Juszczak says was a major inspiration for the pilgrims.

“I think the support that everyone’s given each other through prayer … has been incredible,” Mr Juszczak said.

From praying for an overcast day for the final Mass which was to be held outdoors (it ended up being one of the only overcast mornings for the entire World Youth Day), to a Panamanian woman offering to lend the group a wheelchair only moments after one of the pilgrims had prayed for one, the Tasmanian pilgrims witnessed again and again their prayers being answered.

“That sense of prayer in our group really touched me, that we don´t take anything for granted, no matter how small, we ask God for it,” group chaplain Fr Paschal Okpon said.

While in Panama, the pilgrims met with Adolfo Arauz, who is the the focus of the documentary The Road to Adolfo by Tasmanian adventurer Sam Clear. The group shared breakfast with Adolfo and his family and heard about his own journey of faith.

And then, during the prayer vigil before the final Mass, the Tasmanian pilgrims were given seats on the stage, close to the altar and Pope Francis during the time of Eucharistic adoration.

To process all they had experienced, the Tasmanians returned to Costa Rica for a post-WYD retreat in Arenal. Between times of prayer, music and talks, the pilgrims explored the beauty of the local area, including swimming at a local waterfall, experiencing hot springs and watching for toucans, sloths and hummingbirds.

Mr Juszczak says one of his personal highlights of World Youth Day was to see the growth in faith amongst the Tasmanian pilgrims, and that they have supported each other in that growth.

“My hope is that they go home with a real fire for the Lord and for wanting to change their lives. No matter where they’ve been or where they started off this pilgrimage at, my hope is that when they land back in Hobart, or wherever they’re going, that they land with the conviction of wanting to change their lives for the better. Meaning: wanting to attend liturgy, wanting to pray more, wanting to serve more, wanting to give of themselves in certain ways more – all of these things that they’ve experienced here and loved, my hope is that they take that back with them.”

Watch the testimonials of Tasmania’s WYD pilgrims:
Testimonial One
Testimonial Two

Locals celebrate World Youth Day

An event designed to involve locals in World Youth Day celebrations was held on the Australia Day long weekend in Hobart.

St Mary’s Cathedral Centre was abuzz with young people and families watching a live stream of the final stages of the vigil ceremony with the Holy Father, and hearing from Tasmanian WYD pilgrims via pre-recorded video segments filmed in Panama and Costa Rica.

“We had our own ‘Aussie Fest’ at the Cathedral after the mass. A lot of people took the opportunity to come along…we had far more people turn up than we expected. It was wonderful to see,” Archbishop Julian said.

The event included live music, a free BBQ and pizza, prayer, and the opportunity to hear from Tasmanian pilgrim Sam Clear, who spoke about his adventures in walking around the world for Christian unity.

“I think the event was very, very helpful,” said His Grace.
“It helped people here in Tasmania be aware that it [World Youth Day] happened and have some sort of taste of what a World Youth Day is about. So hopefully, it will encourage some to consider going to World Youth Day in the years to come.”