World Youth Day Provides an Opportunity to Heed God's Call

Posted: 8/22/2011

by Pat McEntee
Associate Vocation Director

Glenmary was present at the Archdiocese of Chicago's "World Youth Day, Chicago Style" event August 20-21. If you were there, too, we hope you were able to visit the Glenmary booth!

This gathering is one of many diocesan and parish celebrations connected with the international World Youth Day (WYD) event, which is celebrated once every three years in a different part of the world. The 2011 international event is being held this month in Madrid, Spain. World Youth Day is an amazing opportunity for many Catholic youth from around the world to witness, firsthand, the universality of the Catholic Church, which is one of Glenmary's five major categories of mission.

But for many others—including those living in poor, very rural mission areas such as those Glenmary serves—it is very easy to feel disconnected from the larger Church. Even with the technological advances that have seemingly placed the world at people's fingertips, it is easy to feel isolated from others. And individuals who don't have access to these technologies can feel even more isolated.

One of the primary reasons why dioceses and parishes often sponsor local events tied to the WYD celebration is to remind those who aren't able to make the pilgrimage to the international gathering that they are all part of the universal Church.

Another important aspect of World Youth Day is the potential power of the moment for the promotion of religious vocations. The reason is certainly not due to a greater presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is constantly calling wherever and whenever we are. The difference is that the magnitude of the event can help an individual be more open to the possibility that what he or she is experiencing is a genuine call.

When one young woman was recently asked to receive the World Youth Day Cross from the group that had it since the 2008 World Youth Day—so that she could take it to the 2011 event—she prayed she would accept it with a full appreciation of what it represented. When she took hold of the cross, she was filled with a deep sense that God was speaking to her in that moment. This ultimately led her to become a postulant in the Iesu Communio. Her openness to the will of God was heightened by the magnitude of the moment, but probably only because of her prayer to be open to what that moment held.

As we celebrate the youth of the Catholic Church all over the world, I pray that we be like the young woman who asked God to help her experience the extraordinary in the ordinary.