Ahead of their departure to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, Catholic Outlook spoke to six pilgrims from the Diocese of Parramatta about their preparations and what they are excited about experiencing whilst on pilgrimage.
Christian Iligan, Secondary Teacher at Nagle College, Blacktown, and World Youth Day veteran pilgrim
Parish: St Andrew the Apostle Parish, Marayong.
Catholic Outlook: How many times have you been to World Youth Day?
Christian Iligan: Three times – Cologne in 2005, Sydney in 2008 and Krakow in 2016.
CO: How do you think Panama will differ to other World Youth Day’s you have attended?
CI: I have never visited this part of the world before, so experiencing a different culture will definitely provide a different flavour to this experience.
CO: What are you hoping to experience whilst in Panama?
CI: To be able to witness how the Catholic faith is celebrated in this continent.
CO: What are you looking forward to most on this World Youth Day pilgrimage?
CI: Apart from visiting Guadalupe in Mexico, having the opportunity to reignite my faith through the talks we will hear, the people we will meet and experiencing the unexpected ways God is revealed to us.
CO: What has been your highlight on your World Youth Day pilgrimages?
CI: Spending a night under the stars during the Vigil Mass with the Pope for all the World Youth Day pilgrimages I have been on.
CO: What are some unique moments you have experience whilst at World Youth Day?
CI: At Cologne in 2005, our pilgrimage group was walking to the Vigil Mass and on our way, we decided to sing some praise and worship songs. As we were singing the lyrics to ‘Shout to the Lord’ in English, an Italian group walking alongside us decided to sing the same song in their own language. Two groups from two different parts of the world, singing the same song in their native languages just shows how the Holy Spirit works within our world.
CO: Do you have any tips or advice for first-time pilgrims?
CI: Have no expectations.
CO: What would you say to those hoping to go to the next World Youth Day?
CI: Although the big events are amazing – where we get to hear from renowned speakers and Bishops, meet people from all over the world and being able to experience how the city expresses their faith – it’s also in the smallest and simplest moments that we are also able to see Christ.
Take a moment during the pilgrimage to stop and listen to how God is speaking to you. It is then when God decides to surprise us.
For more information on the Diocese of Parramatta’s pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, please visit parrawyd.org