“Prayer is about being with others, and praying collectively is more meaningful than praying alone.”
This was the sentiment of one of the 120 participants in Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP)’s 30 for 30 Walk with CYP Challenge.
The initiative encouraged young people and the young at heart across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains to walk for 30 minutes during the 30 days of September and to pray and reflect on a new petition each day.
A week after the conclusion of the challenge, a small group came together online to reflect on their journey across the 30 days and what gave them hope whilst participating in the challenge.
Qwayne Guevara, Manager, Catholic Youth Parramatta, told the group that she was moved by the stories and reflections shared by participants throughout September and that she hoped that the daily intentions helped to keep people grounded during the most difficult parts of lockdown.
For participant Anaru, the 30 for 30 Challenge helped him to get out of a physical and spiritual rut.
When walking one day, he described seeing a chalk message on the footpath that read ‘God is love and love drives out all fear’.
“It was so fortunate that I happened to be looking down that day, because normally I look up when I’m walking,” he said.
“That small message reminded me that even in our struggles, nothing is beyond God.”
Participant Judith-Grace explained that her 30 days were similar to those of the rose bushes coming to bloom in her garden.
“When you are pruning roses in winter, you have to get rid of the dead bits, because they are unhealthy for the growth of new plants,” she described. “So, during the challenge, I was able to let go of what isn’t necessary by spending that extra time in prayer.”
One of the older participants, Cecilia, expressed her joy of completing the challenge. “It was a great month for me,” she said.
“When I saw the challenge, I first saw it as a commitment to walk, and then I loved the idea of the different intentions each day and the praying.
“I took the opportunity in those walks to be aware. I was aware of the intention and what people were praying and writing and seeing, but also for myself, what I was noticing and focussing on.
“Some of the things that people were saying during the challenge, not just what they saw and were appreciating, but some of their concerns and sharing about finding COVID difficult, called me to pray in unison with them,” she said.
Participant Ian explained that although he was talking part in two other walking challenges in September, taking part in the CYP challenge helped “set me up for the day” and kept him grounded.
“I’m normally awake at 5am every morning, so being able to see the prayer intention that early started my day really well,” he described.
“I was grateful that even though we were walking separate, we were all praying together.”
Qwayne explained that she hoped the challenge provided an opportunity for us in lockdown to experience a sense of community and accompaniment.
“The pandemic took many things away from us and one of those things is community, and in particular, the ability to engage in communal prayer.
“In this time, it is so important for us to witness to the hope that we have in Christ and that hope was made possible because people said yes to this challenge. Yes to committing, to sharing and to praying together. Jesus walks with us. Just like he did with the disciples to Emmaus.
“It wasn’t just about our physical wellbeing, but also our emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
“How can we carry each other’s personal crosses in these times and encourage each other through it? The 30 for 30 Walk with CYP Challenge, I believe, provided one way to do that.”
Key statistics from the 30 for 30 Walk with CYP Challenge:
- 30 Days
- 1800 hours
- 9000 kilometres
- 30 prayer intentions
- 120 participants