Ever since I heard about World Youth Day about seven years ago I wanted to attend it. However, I missed the one in Rio de Janeiro and the one in Krakow.
During these years, a lot had changed and I moved to the UK, but one of my focuses had always been to attend a WYD event. During this time I met my girlfriend who attended the WYD at Krakow and would tell me stories about it. This was my calling now and I knew I had to go for the next one.
I asked my local parish priest and he got me in touch with Westminster Youth Ministry. They were offering a bursary for the event and I got accepted.
January 2019, we arrived with a group of 25 in Panama City; I had no clue what was ahead. We started with collecting our Pilgrim Packs and food vouchers.
The First day, we attended the Opening Mass with the Bishop of Panama. This in itself was an experience. I met Catholics from over 120 countries, all waving their country flags. Five of us in our group were from India so we kept running towards an Indian flag whenever we spotted one. We even bumped into couple of volunteers from Gujarat.
The next four days we attended catechesis in the morning, followed by various events in the evening. On the third day our Holy Father, Pope Francis arrived. On the fourth day we had the Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis. On the fifth day we attended the Night Vigil followed by the Closing Mass the next morning by the Pope.
In these days we had talks from Bishops, newly wedded couples, youth who had their lives turned around after attending the previous WYDs, celebrated Mass in a field in the middle of nowhere, exchanged stuff with youth around the world, attended Confession (which was more like a discussion with a friend rather than just telling your sins to a priest), danced with priests and nuns from all around the world.
And in the midst of all this a small boy from seven years ago, from Our Lady of Dolours parish, Marine Lines, got to fulfill his dream and attended the greatest youth event on Earth.