Millions of Sneakers Descend on Lisbon

What do you get when a million pairs of sneakers descend upon one of the oldest countries in Europe? A World Youth Day that is “fire!” (That’s teen slang for “awesome.”)

What do you get when a million pairs of sneakers descend upon one of the oldest countries in Europe? A World Youth Day that is “fire!” (That’s teen slang for “awesome.”)

It may well be the fire of the Holy Spirit that circulated such joyful sentiments throughout Lisbon, Portugal during the first week in August. World Youth Day took the city by storm as over one million young pilgrims raised their faith to a new level through music, prayer, and holy moments.

Thanks to sponsorships from the Catholic Community Fund (CCF)*, teenagers and young adults from several parishes within the Archdiocese of Boston were there forging new friendships and engaging with their peers from other countries.

This year’s theme, chosen by Pope Francis, is Mary arose and went with haste (Luke 1:39). Young parishioners of St. Joseph Parish (Lynn), St. Patrick Parish (Brockton), and St. Rose Parish (Chelsea) did just that as they packed their enthusiasm with their belongings and headed to Lisbon, where they connected and shared their love of Christ with one another.

CCF also sponsored four of Brockton’s Trinity Catholic Academy (TCA) students (and their Campus Minister) so that they, too, could attend the event. “It was on Holy Thursday that I heard the news that CCF had given the funds that paid for my pilgrimage,” said David, a recipient of one of the sponsorships. “I know now that God really wants me to be there in Portugal to encounter Him.”

World Youth Day offers young people an opportunity to participate in a global gathering where they can experience the universality of the Catholic Church while deepening their faith. Experiencing solidarity with thousands of like-minded peers will undoubtedly leave them with fond, lifetime memories.

“We have no doubt participation in World Youth Day will be a life changing experience for our TCA students,” said Jen Roy, TCA’s Head of School. “Our entire school family looks forward to hearing of their travels and adventures.  What wonderful lessons they can share with all of us about our Catholic faith!”

Those lessons will be shared in a wider forum within both the parish and school communities after these pilgrims return from their travels. Whether it’s their memories of Pope Francis, stories of meeting others from around the world, or feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is no doubt they will have many tales to tell. Perhaps the greatest take-away of all will be to realize that everyone shares a home within the Catholic Church.

* CCF was able to sponsor these students thanks to endowment funds set up to support and strengthen the religious faith of students across the Archdiocese.  For more information on how to set up an endowment fund please visit:    Catholic Legacy Society – Leave a legacy of lasting impact.

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