World Youth Day 2016

WYD Report: Mercy Center (with slideshow)

catechesisJuly28-DSC_1255By Maria-Pia Negro Chin

The contingent from the Diocese of Brooklyn joined 18,000 Americans and English speakers July 28 at Tauron Arena, dubbed “Mercy Centre,” an initiative co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Mercy Sisters, the JPII Shrine in Washington and the Sisters of Life.

At the gathering, the youth were challenged to do more and help others.

“I really liked how they announced every single region and that was amazing because everyone had so much pride in where they were from,” said Tessa James, 20, from Our Lady of the Snows, North Floral Park. “I also liked that they were talking about what is happening in the world right now.”

In between prayer and songs, the pilgrims heard about the horrors of the past such as Auschwitz, the Rwandan genocide, as well as the current wave of violence in the U.S. and the persecution of people around the world.

The pilgrims, though tired from travelling, prayed and sang songs of praise. Some of the pilgrims stayed for “Mercy Fest,” a celebration of God’s mercy through song and reflections with speakers like noted evangelist, Bishop Robert Barron from Los Angeles, Calif.

DSC_1360“It is awesome to see so many young people in one place who are alive with the faith,” said Sean Cintron, a third-year seminarian for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“You hear all these languages and you realize that we are all here for the same reason and that is Jesus Christ and he calls us together to be part of this huge family that is the Church.

“Sometimes we think Mass is only for old people. Looking around is a good reminder that there are young people around that do believe in Jesus and are alive with the Catholic faith and want to be here.” Cintron was looking forward to seeing the pope and to seeing the faith brought back to the parishes in New York.

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The next morning the pilgrims woke up at the crack of dawn to return to Tauron Arena for catechesis and Mass.

Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, was leading the youth to reflect on allowing themselves to be touched by God’s mercy.

Kervens Georges, from SS. Joachim and Anne, Queens Village, said that Cardinal Tagle’s catechesis was refreshing.

“I love the cardinal – his perspective on mercy,” Georges said. “I learned a lot from his talk yesterday and I would take that back home and be a better person, a better Catholic and a better son.”

Shakana Jayson, 21, from St. Gerard Majella, said that the cardinal’s catechesis “was the whole summary of the entire journey and it led back to Mercy and it was just really beautiful.”

She said that his words about bringing love to a divided world and being humble to accept help from others reminded her of the Steubenville Conference that took place in the spring at St. John’s University, Jamaica.

“That one was about how broken we are and how God puts back the pieces. Then when the cardinal spoke of the two parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep, it made me realize that we are lost and sometimes we forget to acknowledge that,” Jayson said.

The cardinal’s message also touched upon the world’s obsession with success and self-sufficiency. Juan Manuel Martinez, 22, of St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus, Greenpoint, said that the talk was inspiring and it reflected on some of the aspects of mercy.

“It was very inspiring because it addressed a lot of the doubts that I had for my faith,” he said. “This message of trying to do things my way, trying to make sure but you really can’t do it by yourself. You always have Jesus with you, no matter what you go through.”

Vanessa Exil, 21, from St. Gerard Majella, said she liked the humble personality of Cardinal Tagle.

“You saw the love that he was talking with and it just helped me to see the face of mercy,” she said. “He kept letting us know that God is merciful and that mercy is waiting for us no matter what stage we are at.”

See more World Youth Day 2016 coverage:

WYD Report: Opening Day with Slide Show

Being Close to Pope Is An Amazing Experience

Youth Views from World Youth Day Poland

WYD: Day 2, Catechesis (with Slideshow)

WYD Report: Mercy Center (with slideshow)

Next WYD Stop – Panama

Pope Urges Young People to Take Risks