I was 21 when a WYA member from Guadalajara sent me the application form to participate in World Youth Day with the World Youth Alliance in Cologne, Germany, in 2005. Although I had been raised in a Catholic family and went to Catholic school I had never heard about WYD, nor even experienced nor imagined what a massive cross-cultural share of faith it was.
I shared the adventure with my sister Julieta, who is one of my best friends in life. We started our journey by sharing a van driven by a young German man who took us from Munich to Bonn. It was interesting to converse with him; as a non-believer, he was very surprised at how and why so many people came from all over the world to see the new German Pope. At the end of the car ride, I think he became more open to what was going on in his traditionally calm and quite neighborhood streets: people walking, running, praying, singing, dancing with flags, playing drums, and everything you can imagine, every single day of the entire week.
WYA offered special conferences and workshops in the mornings. In the afternoons we were invited to participate in recruiting campaigns for new members. In the evenings we could just relax, make new friends, or participate in one of the other hundreds of different activities and concerts offered. Part of the experience was for some of us to sleep on the floor and look for our food every day at the Help Points attended by thousands of young volunteers. World Youth Day was a community experience in all sense of the word.
Every person at the WYD came with his own challenges, dreams and concerns. The message of hope given by Benedict XVI through his words and example gave true peace to all of us. I’m sure that many were heartened by the experience; the words “venimus adorare eum Emmanuel” lasted in our ears for long after World Youth Day was over.
By: Julian Carlos Coronado Mendoza, WYA member from Mexico City