Holy Cross Youth and Religious Participate in World Youth Day

Author: General Administration

World Youth Day 2023 Lisbon, Portugal

Close to 150 Holy Cross religious and youth from the Congregation’s schools and parishes from over a dozen countries joined the over one and a half million pilgrims with Pope Francis in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day from August 1-6.

The largest Holy Cross pilgrim groups came from the schools of the Mother Province in France; St. Adalbert’s Parish in South Bend, Indiana, in the U.S.; University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana in the U.S.; Nuestra Madre Santísima de la Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo León, in Mexico; and St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada.

"What impacted me the most and reached my heart was to see so many young people committed to God in World Youth Day," said Mr. Aaron Enrique Carrillo Loya, a young pilgrim from La Luz Parish. "Seeing so many young people recharged the batteries of my spiritual life, with the motivation to convey the Word of God to many other young people so that they understand that with God there is nothing impossible and that with him we do not feel alone and empty."

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World Youth Day 2023 Lisbon, Portugal

There was also an international group of 20 Holy Cross religious and lay collaborators who staffed a booth at the Vocations Fair, known as the City of Joy. The booth was a collaborative effort between Holy Cross Family Ministries, Holy Cross Mission Center, U.S. Province Office of Vocations, St. Joseph’s Oratory, and the Holy Cross Generalate.

Youth from all over the world stopped by the vocations booth to learn more about the Congregation and its mission and charism. Over the four days, 20,000 rosaries provided by HCFM were handed out, in addition to thousands of prayer cards, stickers, and vocational brochures in multiple languages.

Perhaps the biggest draw were the temporary tattoos of the Cross and Anchors, which were a huge hit among the youth.

"The other Holy Cross religious and I at the booth were truly a cross-stitch of the Congregation: from the Americas, Asia, and Africa," said Fr. Vince Kuna, C.S.C., Head of Development and Director of Hollywood Outreach at Family Theater. "Those who swung by our booth valued that diversity. I very much enjoyed meeting the youth from all over the world who were genuinely interested in Holy Cross and our ministries throughout the world. It gave me hope for the future of the Church."

World Youth Day 2023 Lisbon, Portugal

In addition to participating in the other WYD events during the week, on Wednesday afternoon, August 2, over 100 of the Holy Cross religious and youth at WYD came together to celebrate being the international family in Holy Cross. Those gathered wasted no time intermingling and getting to know each other, even before the official welcome, given by Fr. Thomas Eckert, C.S.C., Director of the Mission Center, who served as the entertaining Master of Ceremony for the two-hour encounter.

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After the groups presented themselves and there was an opening icebreaker, Br. Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., Superior General of the Congregation, offered a reflection. Drawing on the WYD theme, Mary arose and went in haste (Luke 1:39), Br. Bednarczyk spoke about how Father Basile Moreau arose and went in haste to serve the needs of the Church and the world. He said that Holy Cross continues to rise in faith and go in hope to serve, sharing several examples of the Congregation’s work around the world.

World Youth Day 2023 Lisbon, Portugal

The youth and religious then divided into multinational groups to reflect on what inspires them to rise up and what are the needs they feel God calling them to respond to in their respective locals.

The encounter closed with a reading from the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross and a moving charge from recently ordained Fr. Pedro Carreño, C.S.C., Associate Pastor of Nuestra Madre Santísima de la Luz Parish, to cross borders of every sort and respond with generous zeal to the challenges of today. The Most Rev. Jorge Izaguirre, C.S.C., Bishop Prelate of Chuquibamba, Peru, offered the final blessing.

"This [Holy Cross] meeting was a moment of enormous joy!" said Maylis Gueyffier from the group from the Mother Province. "The first part of the presentation of each group really allowed us to realize that we are not the only ones to be supported by Holy Cross during our schooling. The quick presentation that we were able to make with the others was a hard test for our English, but everyone was patient to understand each other. During the sharing groups at the end, I met some really funny people! This meeting was really great. It really added a plus to our WYD."

“World Youth Day 2023 has been a wonderful experience,” added Julieta del Carmen Rangel Chávez, from la Luz Parish in Mexico. “In my final stage of youth, it has revived in me that emotion, that spirit, that energy, which I did not realize had fallen asleep after the pandemic. The encounter with young people from all over the world, with the other Holy Cross, has filled me with hope and encouragement to continue making Jesus known, loved, and served."

“There is no doubt that the tiredness of so much walking was nothing in front of the great satisfaction of experiencing the fraternity and living the encounter with our brothers and sisters from around the world, and above all to be very close to the Pope,” she continued.