This was the theme given from Pope Francis of the World youth day (WJD) this year and so we left also the Netherlands with 80 young people the 24th July to begin our 2 weeks adventure in Portugal.

The WJD is a pilgrimage, where young people come together from all over the world for the invitation of the Pope. Its held normally once in every two years, changing the places between Europe and counties outside of Europe.

This year we were invited in Lissabon, Portugal.

We chose to travel by bus, so we had the opportunity to get to know each-other during the 3 days trip. Because this is what the WJD is all about: encounters.

Encounters with one an other and encounters with God in so many different ways.

The Chemin Neuf Community organised the “Welcome to paradise” festival in Portimao (south of Portugal) as a pre-programme of the WJD. 4500 young people form 63 countries arrived one week before the WJD in Lissabon to celebrate our faith and to let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts, before we (with haste) arrived in Lissabon.

This year the Festival and also the WJD was an opportunity not only to meet with other catholic youths from different cultures, but also to meet with young christians from other denominations.

So we could be strengthen in our common christian faith and celebrate the different ways of how we live and understand it. What a gift!

This two weeks were marked by: going beyond our limits (physically and mentally); a lot of fun: beach, sport, dances, tourism; the taste the silent prayer in a huge crowd of people; the fraternity and sharing time; the encouragements from Bishops and from each-other: experience the Church in its diversity; the great and warm hearted welcome of the Portugal people; getting to know ourself better; getting to know the mercy and love of God deeper; making choices; the powerful worship; the presence of the Holy Spirit; creating community while traveling together ….and so much more…

Surely for many young people the Festival and the WJD were a milestone in their journey of faith. The majority of the 80 young people from the Nederland, who came with our Community participated the first time in the Festival and also in the WJD. For them especially, but I believe for all of us, it was a special moment to see the universal Church: living, colourful, joyful, hopeful and full of engaged and enthusiast young people.

However after a spiritual highlight like the WJD the question is always the next step.

Living our faith in our everyday reality is always more challenging than in the time of celebration and strong common experiences. Thats why we ask you to pray further for all the young christians in the Netherlands and worldwide, in order they became credible witnesses of the Good News in their everyday lives, to live “with haste” of God.. We also propose spiritual guidances, fraternities, weekends and retreats in the Nederland for young adults, so they grow and be rooted in their faith after a fundamental experience like this WJD was this summer!