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.
Harry Sadsad, Secondary Teacher at St Agnes Catholic High School, Rooty Hill and World Youth Day 2019 Group Leader.
Parish: Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown.
Catholic Outlook: How many times have you been to World Youth Day?
Harry Sadsad: I have attended twice – Sydney in 2008 and Krakow, Poland in 2016.
CO: Why did you want to go to World Youth Day in Panama?
HS: I had such a memorable and spiritually uplifting experience in Krakow, which was made even more special that I was able to share the experience with a fellow teacher and student from my school. When the opportunity to attend WYD in Panama with even more students from my school was presented to me, I couldn’t refuse.
CO: How many young people from your school are going to World Youth Day?
HS: Three students, who are all in Year 10.
CO: If you are travelling with your own students, what do you hope they will gain from this experience?
HS: I hope my students embrace everything that the pilgrimage throws at them, with an open mind, heart and spirit. I hope it will also be a transformative experience where they will not only encounter the beauty and vibrancy of our global Catholic Church community, but also that they will share their experiences with our school community, so it too can feel that same spirit.
CO: What has been the most interesting thing you have learnt during your formation sessions?
HS: Learning about the culture and spirituality in Central America has been the most eye-opening and, in turn, has made me excited to immerse myself within it when we visit Mexico and Panama.
CO: What are you looking forward to most on this World Youth Day pilgrimage?
HS: Experiencing the Catholic faith through a different culture, the plenaries, and encountering Christ not only through the many new people that we meet along the way, but also through my fellow pilgrims from the Diocese.
CO: What are you hoping to experience whilst in Panama?
HS: I’m not too sure, I’ll just let the Spirit lead.
CO: What would you say to those hoping to go to the next World Youth Day?
HS: Start saving. But in all honesty, I never thought I would have another opportunity to go to WYD after Sydney 2008, but when opportunities to witness the faith in a new country, surrounded by millions of people to you arises, maybe a “yes” is all you need to start and let God take it from there.
For more information on the Diocese of Parramatta’s pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, please visit parrawyd.org