Meet the ‘Pilgrims of World Youth Day’ Ministry Leaders
Jeff and Marguerite Meader - We are a husband and wife team with a passion for sharing new experiences with others! Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”. World Youth Day is an event that not only stretches the mind but also the soul. It does so in so many ways that the traveler continuously finds enrichment during and even after their journey. We have each participated in World Youth Day events as teens and young adults. Marguerite has been a pilgrim in Rome, Italy (2000) and Toronto, Canada (2002). We both journeyed together to Cologne, Germany (2005). Each WYD experience has its own unique flair and feel. There are so many things to take in, both spiritually and emotionally that no two experiences are alike, though all are humbling and illuminating as we bear witness to the one body of Christ alive in the world.
We also have significant experience as world travelers. We lived and studied in Rome, Italy during college. We learned that there is a richness to be found in discovering the history and significance of the religious sites one may encounter on a journey. We also lived and worked in London, England after graduating college. We were able to make great connections and friendships with new people once we allowed ourselves to become part of the fabric of a foreign culture. During both of our experiences abroad, we traveled to several other cities and countries, many of which did not speak English or function the way our country does. St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. We believe that we have a responsibility as Catholics to not judge the book by its cover. It is our experience that the World Youth Day pilgrimage takes us off the pages that we know by heart and out of our comfort zones. We will encounter so many differences between people in how they speak, act, dress and in their interests. But if we are willing to look past the cover of those we meet, we can begin to understand the story of people across the world and to realize that we have more in common as disciples of Christ than we do differences.
What is the ‘Pilgrims of World Youth Day’ Ministry’s Mission?
The Pilgrims of World Youth Day Ministry is comprised of several adult leaders and a selected group of teens to take part in the World Youth Day pilgrimage. Our ministry endeavors to organize fundraising campaigns in order to achieve our goal of funding the cost of sending our youth to this week-long event, held every few years in a foreign city. This select group of pilgrims will have the unique opportunity to grow spiritually on a journey to be closer to God alongside thousands of Catholic teens from around the world. World Youth Day also provides the opportunity to worship with the Pope as he presides over a mass for all travelers. The mission of the Pilgrims of World Youth Day Ministry is to fund our youth and leaders on their spiritual journey to World Youth Day.
How can I support the ‘Pilgrims of World Youth Day’ Ministry?
The Pilgrims of World Youth Day Ministry will sponsor a variety of fundraising events throughout the year in order to accomplish our mission. We hope that in our efforts to reach our goals, we can create fun, family events for our parishioners and neighbors in the community to enjoy. Our on-going events are listed below and will also be posted in the bulletin. If you would like to support our mission but are not interested in our current events, we will also be collecting donations for our cause. We greatly appreciate your support of our current endeavors and our efforts in the coming years. Thank you and God bless!
What is World Youth Day?
World Youth Day is a unique, global event that gathers faithful Catholic youth from across the globe. It was started by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1986 and has been a tradition since. It is typically celebrated every three years and each of these celebrations takes place in a different country. Catholic youth from around the world gather together in a foreign land to encounter Christ on a religious pilgrimage. It is an opportunity for the youth to be faithful living witnesses as disciples of Christ and an opportunity to experience in first person the universality of the Church. This event invites the faithful to be pilgrims on a journey to deepen their faith. Along the way, pilgrims see the barriers and differences between other foreign pilgrims fade to reveal the living body of Christ. Through this communion of Catholic youth, joyfully seeking God, pilgrims encounter the Holy Spirit. It is a journey that continues to unfold as the gifts from the Holy Spirit continue to reveal themselves long after travel has ended.
Observers of World Youth Day would be witness to thousands and sometimes, millions of young people flooding the streets of the hosting city. Bystanders would be met with “smiles and joy, singing and dancing young people, culture upon culture and nation upon nation, proudly holding their flags high (or wearing them), greeting one another in peace, trading their tokens, humbly realizing how small they are in a world of people, and strengthened to witness so many who share their convictions” (worldyouthday.com). This is also part of the experience of a World Youth Day pilgrim.
Queen of the Apostles’ Pilgrims of World Youth Day Ministry is working to send a select group of teens to the upcoming event in Lisbon, Portugal in 2023. It is an event that will open their eyes to the world and to the universality of being a follower of Christ. Differences in race and language melt away with the realization that we are all one in Christ while cultures and customs are shared and celebrated amongst the youth. This event invites participants to bear witness to truly being one in the body of Christ.
The pilgrims on this journey will be able to worship in the city’s most holy places while learning about its history and rich traditions. They will know what it feels like to be a traveler while having to rely on the hospitality of others to overcome language and custom barriers. The humility that comes from such an experience will help to shape these teens as they continue to grow into faithful and active participants in our local community. This experience is a gift that continues to unfold for its participants long after the trip is over as the many facets of this encounter shapes them into young adults who are the future of our communities at home.
(Worldyouthday.com).History. Retrieved from http://worldyouthday.com/about-wyd/wyd-history
(Worldyouthday.com).About WYD. Retrieved from http://worldyouthday.com/about-wyd