| Preparing for the trip to Rio
was a parishwide effort
Excitement had been brewing at Holy Spirit Church in Fremont since August 2012, with the first thought of sending a group of young adults to the World Youth Day pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013.
With the tremendous support and blessing of Father Mathew Vellankal, pastor, and the parish and school community, I led five young adults in this international gathering of millions of young adults from around the world with Pope Francis.
Having had been a part of the organizing committee for three out of four past World Youth Days, Father Vellankal has had first-hand experiences of the degree of impact of such an event on the lives of young adults. Karem Dalisay, Dennica Fernando, Beulah John, Leomi Elaog and Eddy Mulyono became part of a larger contingent of 20 other excited young adults coming from Chicago, Long Beach and San Francisco led by Sisters of the Verbum Dei.
The resounding theme of this year's World Youth Day, "Go and make disciples of all nations," has been a drumbeat echoing in their hearts in these months of preparation. Amidst questions — what are the things to pack for the trip, what will be happening during the days in Brazil, is it safe in Rio, have we raised enough money, how does it translate to Portuguese "where can I find the…." — the young adults discovered that the different aspects of preparing for the World Youth Day became a gift to grow in an interior journey toward a relationship with God and creating the Kingdom of God here and now.
Fundraising efforts began early to get a good head start to raising as close as possible the $12,500 goal. From egg painting in February; movie night in March; a special second collection in April; a spectacular and successful "Magic Show with Father Mat" to a crowd of 200 parishioners and managing booths selling drinks, caps and jewelry at the Holy Spirit Annual Festival, both in May, sending young adults to World Youth Day became a shared community project.
The preparation journey has opened their eyes and hearts to perceive the goodness and providence of God through the community, and in return inspiring them to reach out with joy, life and youthfulness to others in need. Learning Portuguese and having a taste of the extraordinarily warm Brazilian culture has also been a "family affair" with the open arms of a Brazilian-American family, who are parishioners of the Holy Spirit Church.
Although six seems to be a small group, this feisty group of young adults representing Holy Spirit Parish and the Oakland diocese carried within them a certainty that their travels will never be alone. Because in our hearts, we brought with us on his pilgrimage the faces of many people and young adults we know and have encountered in these past months, their stories of faith, passion, prayers, needs and our shared dreams.
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