WYD 2016 ProvinceSharing his impressions, Astor Rodriquez provides a WYD wrap up for our Province and its pilgrims.

VYM/WYD Pilgrimage of Mercy

On July 21, 37 young adults and three priests embarked on this year’s Vincentian Youth Gathering and World Youth Day convocation, 32 from the USA a sd 5 from Panama. Youth from Niagara University, St John’s University, Long Island, Brooklyn, Emmitsburg, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Greensboro N.C. and Charlotte N.C. first united at SJU for a day of orientation and sharing.

We gathered for our Vincentian Meeting at Piekary, Poland under the theme Vincentians: Faithful to Mercy yesterday, today and tomorrow. 1,300 people from 33 countries shared their common heritage, experiences and hope in maintaining the charism alive and well. Through workshops, prayer and cultural acts we contributed who we all were and what makes all Vincentian. Having Fr. Tomaz Mavric, our newly elected Superior General, and other members of the Vincentian Family, really helped us have that support that is really reflected in our own countries.

When that part of our journey finished we left for our new pilgrimage site in Lizski. Before we started the WYD activities we had the opportunity to go to Auschwitz as a group. It was deeply moving for all of us. It rained all the way there, but as soon as we got there it stopped. We walked in silence among structures and read all the signs that explained it all in detail. We prayed for all the victims of this genocide, their families and for the current genocides that are happening all around the world.

On the next day we went to our Vincentian Parish to hear the catechesis presented by a Bishop from Germany with the theme of Chastity. We followed with mass at our seminary and then a tour of the house, grounds and their museum.

On next days we joined the USA contingent for all their services. Musician and singer Tony Melendez, a gifted artist who plays guitar with his feet, asked us all if we were tired, and when he heard some say no, he said if you weren’t tired, then you weren’t doing the pilgrimage right. Then I guess our group was on the right track, because we walked and walked and participate in all we could.  Bishop Robert Barron led on Wednesday, Bishop Tagle (Phillipines) on Thursday and Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Friday. Each helped us enter more on the theme of Mercy and being Merciful.

Our services with Pope Francis were the best. He always knows how to speak simply, but profoundly to all. All were moved by his words of being youth that are not stagnant, that have their boots on, ready to take the risk to live life fully, desiring to encounter each other, to be in communion with each other. Always hanging on to the hand of Christ and willing to be witnesses of God’s mercy for all.

When we all left on Sunday, having walked those long miles, we left with our hearts full and our spirit renewed to continue our mission.


Next stop PANAMA – experinece the joy of the announcement..