Bishop Vincent’s Message for World Youth Day following return
I have just returned from a World Youth Day pilgrimage with 170 mostly young people from our diocese. You will be pleased to know that we have had a safe, enjoyable, and enriching experience. We traced the footsteps of the saints as we traversed through the heartland of Christian Europe. We began at the tomb of St Vincent De Paul in Paris and concluded our pilgrimage with a retreat in Assisi. At Lourdes and Fatima, we participated in the candle-light processions and immersed ourselves in the deep spirituality of these Marian shrines.
In Lisbon, we joined a crowd of over 1 million people from all over the world in celebrating our Catholic faith through prayers, meditations, sacraments, and encounters of various kinds. This year, there was a new approach to the focus and the way the catechesis was conducted. The new model for the “rise up sessions”, as they were called, reflected the synodal vision of Pope Francis. The bishops did not simply teach but they did so by first listening to the young. The topics for discussion, too, covered many areas of concern and constituted the signs of the times.
We are grateful for your love, support, and prayers at home. As the Pope reminded the pilgrims, the World Youth Day is not a holiday or a show of Catholic triumphalism but an encounter with the living Christ. We felt truly honoured to be connected with fellow Catholics from all corners of the globe, to experience the power of the Holy Spirit and to renew our commitment to be the leavening force for the world.
I thank you, parents, guardians, and families of our pilgrims for entrusting them to our care and accompaniment. It was a joy for me, the chaplains, and leaders to lead such a group of fine young people. I was proud of the way they adhered to the code of conduct, looked out for one another, and participated fully in what was a very demanding schedule at times.
I pray that as they returned to their homes and communities, they will continue to grow in the spirit of this once-in-a lifetime- journey in faith and this experience will bear fruit in many different ways, now and into the future.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta
Sent on 18 August 2023