A Pilgrim’s Progress – The World Youth Day Experience

wyd01Today I welcome our guest blogger Alice Culbreth, Director of Christian Formation at St. Peter Church in Waldorf, to share her WYD experience.

Rome. Toronto. Cologne. Sydney. It’s hard to believe that I’m starting to prepare for my (and our parish’s) 5th World Youth Day Pilgrimage (to Madrid, Spain in 2011).  After  Rome in 2000, I really wanted to believe myself when I said “never again”:).  It is, by all worldly, physical and even emotional standards, a difficult journey to undertake.  While the spiritual benefits are amazing, far-reaching and life-changing, could any pilgrimage top the mountain-top experience of being in Rome during the new millennium and jubilee year?  Was it possible to embrace my faith at any deeper level then when I walked into St. Peter’s Basilica through the Jubilee Door for the very first time or kneeled at the tomb of the one whom Jesus handed the Keys of the Kingdom to?   And even if my spiritual life was nourished and nurtured beyond expectations , would it be worth the hardships endured?

Almost 10 years and 4 World Youth Days later, I answer with a resounding “YES”. Whatever struggles, sacrifices and significant occurrences of sleep deprivation have been offered up in prayerful humility, I would do it all again. While there have been many lessons learned along the way, I wouldn’t change the dynamics of these incredible walks with the Lord. I have been witness to emerging vocations, friendships formed beyond the language barrier, deepened prayer lives, embracing of the sacramental life of the Church, defining moments when our youth have come to the recognition that not only is it “cool to be Catholic”, but an honor and privilege as well.  What a blessing
it has been for me to be part of this!

I am so honored to have been called to help guide this young Church in their formation and lead them to friendship with Jesus Christ.  Being part of World Youth Day over the years has inspired me tremendously as I have seen the hope of our faith in the faces and shared prayers of these young people.  Being part of their enthusiasm, deep faith and commitment to the Gospel recharges my own spiritual batteries and reaffirms my own commitment to ministry in the Church.  If I had time (and the space in this blog, LOL) I would write about each one of these journeys and share the experience with  you! But this needs to ‘come to an end’ at least for now.

We’re just about two years away from Madrid in 2011 and on behalf of the Office of Youth Ministry, your parish is invited to join us on this exciting spiritual adventure. The office is already accepting deposits and we’re incredibly enthusiastic about the amount of time we will have to do fundraising before the actual trip. The pilgrimage begins in Fatima, Portugal and ends in Lourdes, France, with many stops at holy sites and shrines in cities throughout Spain.  If you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity, contact the Office of Youth Ministry at 202-281-2466.  Additionally, if you would like a team of adults/youth who have lived the WYD experience to come and talk to your parish about the why and how of participating, let the office know when you call.

Praying that you will continue to be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your
lives, hearts and ministries.

Grace and Peace,
Alice Culbreth
Director of Christian Formation
St. Peter Church – Waldorf

2 Replies to “A Pilgrim’s Progress – The World Youth Day Experience”

  1. Alice,

    In the spring, we had someone come speak at St. Fancis Xavier in Compton, Maryland about having Young Adult actvities with out having a “YA ministry”. (St. Mary’s County)

    We shared that it would be wonderful if the small parishes could combine resources together.

    I am interested in finding more about the trip to share with the parishes around me.

    In Faith,

    Mo Detrick

    301-690-2549 home

    301-475-9795 work (Father Andrew White)

  2. Hi Maureen,

    If the group is over the age of 21, please contact Kateri Schmidt, the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese of Arlington, who is planning a trip. (703) 841-2549

    If the group is under age 21, please contact Debbie McDonald at the Youth Ministry office of the Archdiocese of Washington, who is planning a trip. 202-281-2466

    – Laura

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