Development and Peace’s Atlantic Regional Animator Rebecca Rathbone recently travelled to Krakow, Poland to participate in World Youth Day 2016 as part of #YoungCaritas, a group young people working for various Caritas members around the globe who have come together to highlight and promote the importance youth involvement in the Caritas federation.
Made up of youth from El Salvador, Venezuela, Senegal, New Zealand, Canada, Luxembourg, England & Wales and of course Poland, the #YoungCaritas group reflects the global reach of Caritas Internationalis, which is formed of 165 Catholic development and humanitarian organizations, including Development and Peace as the Canadian member.
In addition to participating in mass with Pope Francis, and a visit to World War II holocaust concentration camp Auschwitz, the group took centre stage at a Caritas event presided by Caritas President and Cardinal of Manila, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle.
Each youth had an opportunity to speak to the crowd of pilgrims and tell of their inspiring experiences being part of the Caritas family as lived through their respective organizations.
Cardinal Tagle opened by addressing the pilgrims: “Caritas is at the very heart of being a Christian. It’s not just an idea, it’s a lifestyle. If you start living for others, it’s a habit you’ll pass on.”
Rebecca gave examples of how Development and Peace uses fun and interactive activities to engage young people in learning about social and environmental justice issues and how to take action against injustices. She also explained how youth have an important place within the organization’s governance structure to ensure that they have a voice in decision-making processes.
“This acknowledges that youth are present in the organization NOW, and they have great ideas NOW, they want to be involved NOW, they have amazing energy and talents NOW, and so they should be heard NOW. Not later,” she shared with the crowd.
Here are further reflections of her experience at WYD and being part of #CaritasYoung:
My experience at World Youth Day has been nothing short of inspiring. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to make the pilgrimage to Krakow with over 2.5 million other young Catholics from around the world, and to take part in this amazing event. It’s hard to think of another event similar to WYD – where millions of people travel thousands of kilometres to joyfully celebrate their Christian identity and youth. It was so refreshing to see so many fellow young people who carry the love of God in their hearts, and who are so organically joyful.
It has been especially wonderful to have shared this experience with so many incredible people who work within the Caritas family. The theme of this year’s WYD was ‘Blessed are the Merciful, for they will receive Mercy.’ If it’s true (and I think that it is) that committing oneself to the service of others is essentially at the heart of what it means to be merciful, then my amazing new friends are certainly the embodiment of Mercy here on earth. Their stories and their work are incredible, and I feel so inspired by them to continue my own work for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada. This experience has reaffirmed my belief that our connection to Caritas Internationalis is so important, and it has been a great reminder that D&P members and staff are part of something much larger – the extraordinary and beautiful Caritas family, which makes the world a better place every day.