Three lay leaders from the Brooklyn Diocese were asked to contribute to World Youth Day by taking on the role of animators at one of the English catechetical sites.
Paul Morisi, Paula Migliore and Kenny Wodzanowski engaged youth from around the world in spiritual formation. They acted as masters of ceremonies, organized activities and worked with guest speakers and musicians to give the youth a memorable experience of worshiping God.
“As an animator, it was probably the most beautiful, intimate experience I had,” said Wodzanowski, the youth director of the Bensonhurst parish cluster. “There were so many powerful moments of feeling God and the Church on different levels.”
The catechesis sessions consisted in animators engaging the youth and tying the event together, musicians leading song and dance and bishops teaching catechesis.
“We went into this thing without knowing each other or really what the plan was,” Wodzanowski said. “The level of collaboration was incredible; we just worked off of each other.”
Migliore said the three leaders from Brooklyn prayed for this event to be successful.
“It was much more than I expected,” she said. “It was a beautiful experience for me.”
She said she was impressed with the energy level of the youth and their group leaders.
“I saw a great joy – but I also saw a great reverence,” she said.
After the speaker of the day finished his talk, the floor was opened to personal testimonies of faith and questions from the audience.
“The questions were so rich because we all want to know how to be better witnesses to Christ,” Migliore said.
Pilgrims from Africa, Europe and North and South America attended the event.
“I got to experience the universal Church,” said Morisi, director of youth activities for the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation.
On the first two days of the catechesis, the same group of about 50 pilgrims from around the world attended. On the third and last day, over 200 pilgrims from the Brooklyn Diocese and more pilgrims from Ireland joined the group.
Morisi said this was at first intimidating. He was afraid that with such a large group, the intimacy may have been lost.
“In reality, it elevated the energy level tremendously,” he said. “The sense of community was magnified tenfold.”