By Bishop Edgar da Cunha
I vividly remember riding the bus to the closing Mass on that bright Sunday morning and seeing thousands of young people flocking to Copa Cabana Beach to join the 3.7 million people celebrating their oneness in Christ. When the Holy Father arrived and the Mass started, there was a sense of Church, of being a part of something really great, of being one family of God’s people from different nations and languages, all with the same faith and the same hope. As one participant said, “Young people are hungry to know the truth and they find it at World Youth Day. When I went, there were kids who were going back to church. They realized that they are not alone in their journey to the Lord. The event shows that the Church is alive and well, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
As a Bishop catechist, I had the privilege of giving the catechesis to hundreds of young people who went to World Youth Day to learn more about their faith and to be renewed, strengthened, and affirmed in their belief in Christ. I know they were inspired by the talks, questions, sharing, and celebrations, but I received as much as I gave. I was inspired by their faith, enthusiasm, joy and hope. I came back renewed in my hope for the future of our Catholic Church. World Youth Day shows that there is hope for the world and for the Church.
We all witnessed the power of prayer and of God’s presence. After Communion, during the closing Mass, when we were asked to acknowledge the presence of Jesus in our lives, there was absolute silence. Where else can 3.7 million people gather in one place and be in total silence? Only faith in God’s presence, respect, and love make this happen. As Pope Francis told everyone there, “Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history”. That is the goal that the young people attending World Youth Day were committed to accomplish. Imagine how many lives have been touched by those who carried that message to the whole world!
Bishop da Cunha leads the Diocese of Fall River.