By Jazmin Rosa
BAY RIDGE — A year after World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, the impact of the pilgrimage is still being felt by local youth who attended the event.
About 200 Catholics from Brooklyn and Queens went to Panama, along with 700,000 young people from around the world looking up to deepen their faith and listen to Pope Francis. St. Patrick’s Church, Bay Ridge, sent a group of seven.
Christian McCormack, 23, a first-time pilgrim from St. Patrick, said the trip to World Youth Day has helped spark conversations about the faith with his peers, many of whom are loosely religious, if at all.
“People my age were asking me, ‘Who’s Jesus?’ and ‘What is being a Catholic?’,” McCormack said. “I was amazed that people my age who believe in God, but maybe don’t think that He has a role in their lives … they were starting to ask questions, and that’s the important part.”
Sarah Carr, 24, who made the World Youth Day pilgrimage for the third time, said that she often reflects on her experience, which has stayed with her to this day.
“My perspective has changed for the better,” Carr said. “I went in with a lot of doubt, and what stuck with me after was the confidence. I’m a stronger person in my decisions and my faith now. I find myself talking more with God and leaning more into my religion when I come to these crossroads in life… I find myself leaning more into my religion now than I did before.”
The group from St. Patrick’s was led by Romeo Petric, the World Youth Day coordinator at the parish. “It was so special,” Petric said. “Since our group was so small, they were able to bond a lot faster and they’ve kept in contact with (friends made in Panama) over social media.”
The St. Patrick’s contingent was so inspired by the experience in Panama that the members plan to attend the next World Youth Day, which will take place in July 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal.