(Photos: Melissa Enaje)
For one to comprehend the faith-filled energy of the youth within the diocese’s Spanish-speaking community, look no further than the young faces within the Jornadas of the Movimiento de Jornadas de Vida Cristiana – a long-standing movement that spans different generations of its members.
Early on Holy Saturday, more than 300 young people lined Fourth Ave. in Sunset Park, singing and dancing to the rhythm of their own beat for the annual Caminata walk.
Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros recalled his own youth when he spent his days walking the Caminata with fellow Jornadistas. While it is more difficult for him to walk the six miles or more today, he still finds a deeper meaning as to why the walk takes precedence in the lives of young Hispanic Catholics.
“The meaning I see for this type of walk for the youth, first of all is the knowledge that we are always walking and we are walking towards an end and the end is God,” said Bishop Cisneros.
“We ourselves can become discouraged if we do not move by way of faith, if we just remain in ourselves sorry about our crosses, sorry about our problems and difficulties. No, we have to move and the Spirit moves us to go on to accompany one another, to accompany Jesus and find our cross, our Resurrection and purposeful life.
“This Caminata of the young people has a lot of meaning and definitely that is one of them.”
The event marked more than 30 years that members of the Jornada movement gathered during the Easter Triduum and brought their faith to life during a walking pilgrimage. They assembled by their ‘zones’ based on their parishes, holding colorful banners, singing praise and worship songs in Spanish and then they journey to six different churches along a designated route.
This year’s Caminata moved through the streets of Sunset Park into Borough Park and returned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Sunset Park.
A Family Affair
For Jornadista Katelyn Mora, a senior at St. Agnes Academic H.S., College Point, she not only took up the call to participate in the Caminata, but she was one of the leaders carrying a banner that represented Our Lady of Sorrows parish, Corona.
“Not everyone can step up to the challenge of carrying the banner because it is heavy and it is a long walk,” said Mora, who was accompanied by her brother Luis, also a member of the Jornada movement.
“We just went up a hill and it was kind of challenging with the wind and not a lot of people can do that and I feel like I’m definitely doing it for God and for His work,” she explained.
The siblings not only experienced World Youth Day in Poland together last year, but get to continue to live out their faith journey together in the Jornada movement as a family.
The first stop was St. Michael’s Church, Sunset Park, where the pastor, Father Kevin Sweeney, pumped up the crowd and honed in on the surplus amount of energy the walkers were exchanging with one another. Once the crowds gathered around the church, youth from each designated parish acted out a skit as part of the day’s theme: The Mighty One has done great things for me and Holy is His Name.
“Let us walk together with Jesus today and ask Him to fill our hearts with peace, that we can be instruments of peace and love for others and true witnesses to the Resurrection,” said Father Sweeney. “We’re going to walk today. Tonight when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, let us bring joy, the joy of the Risen Jesus to our world.”
Every step along the remaining six miles along the route – to St. Catharine of Alexandria, Holy Spirit, St. Frances de Chantel and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica – were filled with acts of joy and kindness: smiles to those honking their car horns, hand waves to not only strangers who opened their windows and pulled out their smartphones, but to even the Jewish families sitting outside on their balconies.
“We don’t walk alone,” explained Bishop Cisneros. “We walk with one another. We walk with Jesus, but where is Jesus if He is not in the people around us, in the people that share our joys, our sorrows, our hopes and our disappointments?”