- Was this the first time that the Religious of the Assumption had been present in this way at World Youth Day ?
Although many sisters have accompanied groups of young adults to previous World Youth Days this was the first time that we had a permanent presence at the Vocations Centre.
- What led to this decision ?
The journal ’Horizon’ (for religious involved in vocations ministry) encouraged religious to take part in both the Vocation Cafe and the Vocations Centre at WYD. The vocations team of the Province of England was enthused by the possibility of taking part in the explicitly vocational activities of WYD and we decided that it would be ideal if we could have a stand at the Vocations Centre, with a group of sisters from different countries. This idea was proposed to the other provinces of Europe, through the Councils of Europe meeting, and we were delighted that two sisters from the Province of Northern Europe offered to join us.
- Describe your presence at the stand ? How many were you ?
There were four of us on the team : Katrin Goris from Belgium, Benedicte Rollin from Lithuania, and myself and Francesca (an aspirant) from England. We were on the stand for four full days, encountering young people from practically every country of the world. For the first day we all stayed for the full day, and from then onwards we organised a rota, which ensured at least two of us on the stand at any time, and enabled us all to have a little break from the very busy and noisy tent in which 140 stands of religious congregations, ecclesial movements, charitable organisations and national vocations centres were based.
We were very blessed with the number of languages spoken between the four of us, which meant that there was no one we couldn’t communicate with. We also found it important to have a good knowledge of the congregation, as the young people would ask us where our sisters were in their countries and what they did.
Prior to WYD we had requested information about the congregation from the other Provinces of Europe, and were delighted to have literature in French, Spanish, English, Italian & Lithuanian, as well as give-aways in several languages. Bracelets with quotes from St Marie Eugenie on them in Spanish were extremely popular, as were the ’seed sticks’ of wild flowers, with quotes in English from Scripture and St Marie Eugenie.
- Could you share the experience of some of the young people who met the team ?
During the four days we met thousands of young people, and had many ’mini-conversations’ as we shared prayer-cards and the simple give-aways which helped introduce the spirituality of the Religious of the Assumption. We were also blessed with a good number of much deeper conversations, with young people really searching for God’s call for their life and wondering whether they were called to religious life. And there was the joy of meeting people who had been educated with us ; those from the Philippines, Mexico, Spain and France stand out most strongly for me. We had a large banner with the icon of St Marie Eugenie outside the stand and it was wonderful when she was recognised !
- Personally, what experience did you have of WYD ?
As well as meeting so many young people, two highlights stand out for me from WYD. The first was the joy of meeting other Religious of the Assumption who were present in Krakow with diocesan groups. And, above all, I will remember the joy of the ’family spirit’ of the team of the four of us, who created an Assumption community for a week. It was a real privilege to have this opportunity and I am extremely grateful for all who made it possible. I hope that something similar may be possible in Panama in 2019 !