Faith Formation: WYD 2019

World Youth Day took place in Panama City, Panama in late January 2019. Over 200 pilgrims from Sydney Catholic Schools journeyed to Panama via Mexico or Washington DC. Pilgrims were taking up the Pope’s invitation to young people all over the world to come together for World Youth Day celebrations and learn more about their faith, while also having the time of their lives. The culmination of the week was the Closing Mass in Metro Park where more than 800,000 young people from over 150 countries came together to celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist and hear Pope Francis’ Address. In his address, the Pope built on the theme of this World Youth Day “I am the servant of the Lord, Let it be done to me according to your word,” encouraging young people to pray and consider how God is calling us to live and act because we “are not the future but the now of God.”

I was the sole student representing Bethany College on this trip. I was fortunate enough to travel to Panama via Mexico City, visiting the Pyramids of Teotihuacan and the awe-inspiring Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as just two highlights of this two-week trip. Another memorable experience was the joyful and genuine welcome we received from the local people. Pilgrims were cheered and honked as they walked through the streets. Signs everywhere, including in major shopping centres, held messages of welcome. Like every pilgrim, at times I found it hard to put into words the deep impact the experience of World Youth Day had, but each of my fellow travellers and I were definitely strengthened in our own spiritual understanding and knowledge of the Catholic Faith, and I am sure this will continue as we return to our normal lives.

In our modern society we are often obsessed with measuring the effect of what we do; trying at all times to make sure that we get the “most bang for our buck.” Experience’s like World Youth Day, by their very nature, defy that trend because they are able to touch people on a spiritual and emotional level; how can you measure the immeasurable? But upon reflecting on the rollercoaster that was my World Youth Day pilgrimage, I have these numbers and statistics to share which might hopefully capture, if not the spirit of the experience then at least, its immense scope:





WYD 2019 in statistics

  • 700,000 young people
  • 255,497 steps taken
  • 37,750 kms flown
  • 197 kms walked
  • 16 days travelled


Alice Gleeson

Year 11