In July 2013, Sr. Bernadette Duffy was delighted to be able to use some of the funds from the Education for Life account to send one of her team - Neo Rakoma - to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. You may remember that Neo was one of the South African Team who visited our parish some years ago and we still remember her infectious personality.
Dear Friends of Tullylish Parish the experience that I have gained from attending the World Youth Day was only made possible because of your kindness and generosity. I shall always be indebted to you and all I have to offer in return are my prayers, but please be assured that they are constant.
Yours with a grateful heart
Pretoria Archdiocesan Education For Life Coordinator.
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World Youth Day Rio de Janeiro 2013
Theme: Go make disciples of all nations Mt28: 19
I’ve always wanted to attend the world youth day but never got a chance, this time around I was fortunate to be in the planning committee and I told myself that there is no way I will not attend this one. It was very hard to get excited about the pilgrimage since I was the one planning it for the diocese and I had to make sure that all the pilgrims were informed about all the details and also plan the preparation meetings. As a diocese we had 5 preparatory meeting and they were very meaningful as we got to know each other and build a relationship. We also did some spiritual exercises together; we attempted to learn Portuguese and the WYD song.
The Departure 16 July 2013
As much as I was busy on the day handing out t-shirts and plane tickets at the airport, reality kicked in and I began being aware that I was going be amongst the millions of young people around the world who were going on this pilgrimage to deepen their faith and to share with people from different parts of the world.
The Arrival- Tues 16 July 2013
We arrived in Sao Paolo on the 16th July at 23:00 very tired but once we got our luggage and went to the arrival point all the fatigue disappeared because of the welcome we got, a real samba jovial welcome. We danced and sang together, Sao Paolo felt like home. At once the words in the creed came to mind: One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church.
We left the airport and went to our host parish The Assumption of our Lady, we arrived there abound midnight and we were surprised to find our host families waiting for us, that was a very touching moment because they had sacrificed their sleep to welcome us. Each of us was placed with a family and then e given the timetable for the week and maps.
Wed 17 July
We gathered at the parish in the morning to start our mission week, we first went to the project in the Favelas together with our new friends from Venezuela. It was a home for elderly people.
We then went to the Afro Museum where we learned about the history of black people in Brazil, it was quiet interesting to find out how inter-related we are. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any picture. Next to the museum there was a beautiful park called Ibirapuera Park and there is a big monument that shows how the Portuguese moved into Brazil.
The day ended with mass @ Assumption parish, had supper and went to our different homes. A day well spent.
At home my host family wanted to know how my day was though English was a problem but we managed to communicate. My parents were so loving and warm, they bought me Brazilian chocolate and they did everything in their power to make me comfortable. It is very true that faith has the ability to unite people. I didn’t feel like a stranger, I felt like I was part of the family and that was a very special indescribable feeling. This treatment reminded me of the words in 1 Peter 4:9- show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Thurs 18 July 20113
The day started with Mass with the Archbishop of Sao Paolo and followed Catechesis at Assumption parish which was led by Fr Karabo Baloyi, he shared about the different works that the church in the Archdiocese of Pretoria is engaged in such as the different youth program and how we use the Media (Radio Veritas) to evangelise
We then went to St Benedict Cathedral where there was a concert and a night vigil
Fri 19 July 2013
A few of us were from South Africa were invited to have breakfast with the Governor of Sao Paolo, the Archbishop of Madrid and of Sao Paolo together with young people from other countries.
On the other side of town, the whole group had catechesis @ Immaculate Parish
We then walked down Paulista Avenue, singing and praising the Lord. The music really united us as different people from different culture, it was very magical feeling.
Dinner at Achiropita Church
Sat 20 July 2013
Catechesis and Adoration at Our Lady of Carmo Parish
Mission week Farewell Mass
We attanded the mission week farewell with Cardinal Odilo, and it was a very special moment seeing young people from all over the world united in prayer, song and dance. I could feel the presence of God, I was also privellenged to be chosen to say a prayer during the eucharistic celebration. Our group at this stage was known as the “singing group from South Africa” everywhere we went we sang and praised the Lord. We also had the opportunity to sing at the farewell mass and this was a very proud moment. Proud to be Catholic and proud to be South African.
Sat 20 July 2013- Farewell
Sunday 21 July - Farewell @ Assumption Parish
What a teary Sunday morning we had, from the beginning of mass until we got onto a bus to RIO. We’ve shared so many great memories with the people of Sao Paolo and it was very hard to say goodbye, they are the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, (apart from the Irish, of course) they opened their hearts and homes to us. A local television crew was invited to see this “singing group from South Africa” and they interviewed some group members to share about their experience of mission week and of course we left with a BANG by singing our favourite song of mission week “Ha hona ya tshwanang le Jesu- There’s noone like Jesus”.
Rio de Janeiro was about 6 hours from Sao Paolo, we stopped over at a shrine which is called Aparasida, a fishing town, at this place many years ago a group of men went out fishing, they spend half of the day trying to get some fish without any luck, one guy caught something and it a stature of a woman without a head. They continued finishing and another guy caught the head of the woman, they put together the statue and continued fishing and they caught thousands of fish and this woman in the statue was called Our Lady of Aparasida and it became a shrine. We continued with our journey to Rio unfortunately we didn’t reach our desired destination because of time and distance and we stopped off at a parish outside Rio and there were welcomed with both hands. Parishioners opened their homes to us for the night and we rested.
Mon 22 July 2013
We met at church in the morning and waited for another bus to Rio, we travelled for 2 hours and finally we reached our destination Nosa Sehnora Aparasida. We were given places where we will be accommodated. The guys were accommodated at the school and the ladies were taken to host families. This parish was the information for WYD around that area and we met other South African groups there: Oudtshoorn and the KZN Cluster.
Tues 23 July 2013
The joys of being a leader. This was the day of the official opening of the WYD. We didn’t have our bag packs which consisted of our transport and meal card and the pilgrim’s book which had all the activities of the week. Myself, Fr Karabo and two other group members had to go and get those bag packs in town at the Samba Dome. When we got there, there we thousands of people and we stood in a line all day until we got the whole groups bag packs. Back at home the group just hung out at the church and watched the opening mass on the big screen. We arrived at the parish at 9pm and distributed the bags packs and discussed the plans for the following day.
Wed 24 July 2013
We gathered in the morning at the parish and embarked on a journey to our first catechesis with most of SA groups, the catechetical session was conducted by the Archbishop of Accra, Archbishop Charlie and his message of the day was to believe and trust in prayer and we should pray with conviction. In the afternoon we were free to do anything.
Thurs 25 July 2013
Everybody woke up excited because this was the day the Pope was conducting the Stations of the Cross at Copacabana beach, the group first went to catechesis and then to the beach. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend this because we were in town looking for a bank to pay the transport that was going to take us to the airport when we would go back home. Unfortunately it was a public holiday because of the WYD and we spend the whole day lost in the City trying to find our way back home.
Fri 26 July 2013
This was a very special day for me because we had decided to go to the Christ the Redeemer statue. On our way there we were singing and praising and upon arrival there was a long line which we didn’t really see because we met many young people full of life and we sang and danced all the to the top of Cocovado mountain, this was an all-day affair but it was worth it.
Sat 27 July 2013
We woke up very early because everybody was rushing to Copacabana for the vigil mass, in order for us to get a good spot we needed to be early. We started with a 10km walk to the beach, our group was divided along the way but we had made an arrangement that should we split we will meet the following day at the parish. In our group were had an elderly lady and everyone left her behind while we were walking so I decided to walk slowly with her until we get to the beach. We finished the 10km walk and got the beach but when we got there she was not well and I had to accompany her home. Transport was a problem on that because it was busy and there was a big hype about the vigil. We finally got back and I couldn’t go back to the vigil and we both missed the vigil mass.
Sun 28 July 2013
We met at the church at 7am where the bus was already waiting for us. The fatigue started kicking in and we slept for most of the journey. Upon arrival at the airport our friends from Sao Paolo were waiting for us it was wonderful to see them again. They brought us food packs and stayed with us at the airport until very late as our flight was for 01:30am
I personally appreciated the mission week more because it more intimate and I took a lot of lessons from interacting with our host parish and host families. Rio was on a much bigger scale and we had to find our own way in everything that we do. Generally I truly enjoyed my experience and I realised that there’s a lot of young people in the world who are on fire for their faith and my plea is for the church to give us the space to spread our wings.