Ahead of their departure to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, Catholic Outlook spoke to seven pilgrims from the Diocese of Parramatta about their preparations and what they are excited about experiencing whilst on pilgrimage
Melissa Fardella, primary school teacher and Mathematics Co-ordinator at St Margaret Mary’s Primary School, Merrylands.
Parish: St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Catholic Outlook: How many times have you been to World Youth Day?
Melissa Fardella: This will be my second World Youth Day. My first World Youth Day was in Poland, 2016.
CO: How many young people from your school are going to World Youth Day?
MF: There is one teacher pilgrim from my school and three pilgrims from my parish attending World Youth Day.
CO: Why did you want to go to World Youth Day in Panama?
MF: During the 2016 World Youth Day, I was able to re-encounter my faith. Hence, I wanted the opportunity to continue building my relationship with God and leading others on the journey as well.
The experience is one that is unforgettable that ignited the Holy Spirit within me and allowed me to become more curious about my faith.
I love seeing people, especially young people sharing their faith and engaging with others whilst keeping God at the centre of their lives.
CO: What has been the most interesting thing you have learnt during the formation sessions?
MF: One of the most interesting things I learnt through the formation sessions was when Fr Chris spoke to us about servant leadership. Using Jesus as a model and guide, I can be a servant to others on pilgrimage by making sacrifices for the good of the other and always remembering that ‘the message is more important than the messenger.’
CO: If you are travelling with your own students, what do you hope they will gain from this experience?
MF: I am travelling with one of the teachers from my school and pilgrims from my parish are also going. I hope they are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and take risks in their faith.
To develop a deeper relationship with God, realising that they are children of God.
I believe WYD is not just about the pilgrimage, but it is about what you do when you arrive home. In saying this, I hope the pilgrimage ignites a fire in the pilgrims and encourages them to keep prayer as an integral part of their daily lives and to step out in their parishes or workplaces to bring others closer to Christ and encounter God.
CO: What are you looking forward to the most on this World Youth Day pilgrimage
MF: I am looking forward to so many things. It’s really hard to pick just one so here are a few things:
- Deepening my relationship with God, through daily prayer and adoration, reflecting on the Gospel and meditating on the idea that I am a daughter of Christ and He is with me in my journey.
- Being an authentic witness to my faith by building relationships and connecting with youth from all around the world.
CO: What would you say to those hoping to go to the next World Youth Day?
MF: Offer all your reservations and reasons not to go to God. Trust in him and he will lead you on a journey of a lifetime. Take the leap, take the courage, step outside of your comfort zone, but, always remember to take good walking shoes.
For more information on the Diocese of Parramatta’s pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, please visit www.parrawyd.org