A youth delegate from the Philippines for World Youth Day (WYD), which was held in Lisbon, Portugal, says the event enabled her to "encounter the love of Jesus."
"For me, World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon was an avenue for young people like me to encounter the love of Jesus," said Jinelo Pepito, one of the Philippine delegates from the Institucion Teresiana Youth-Philippines, an international association of lay Catholics.
"Seeing Pope Francis made me emotional. I observed how charismatic the pope was and how the young people gathered by faith amidst the diversity of cultures. There were a lot of significant experiences that I had," Pepito told RVA News.
The first time was when Pope Francis emphasized during his inaugural Mass that all of the young people gathered in the park by their names.
"Jesus called us by our names, and we are all tasked with sharing what we have experienced on WYD. It simply means walking with him to bring him to others," she said.
The second significant experience she had was during the Way of the Cross, when Pope Francis said, "We, the young people of today's generation, have great dreams."
The Pope reminded the delegates that they should not be afraid because God loves all, and despite one’s negative thinking, Jesus lights the path for all to continue achieving their dreams with no fear.
In addition, Pope Francis also highlighted in his message at the overnight vigil that people’s lives are the world’s biggest contest, and only they can stop them from failing.
"We may encounter challenges while pursuing our great dreams in life, but along the way, Jesus is with us. We cannot enjoy success without failure; it is like having a job without effort. Both failures and successes can bring us real happiness in life. As Pope Francis said, it's not only to enjoy the smile but also to reflect on the sadness," Pepito said.
"The WYD 2023 moved me to appreciate how wonderful our lives are and that we should not be afraid of everything we do if it is for the common good. WYD inspires me even more to continue the work of volunteerism, especially with the organizations with which I started my journey. I will continue to volunteer as an educator for indigenous people’s children," she said.
"We, the youth of today’s generation, must trust the will of God for us, along with our actions, and not be afraid to fail once, twice, three times, or even more, because the more we fail, the stronger we become," she added.
According to Pepito, success is more tasteful when failures are the spices—the reason why he believes in the quotation that goes, "Everything happens for a reason," and that reason teaches him to appreciate life more.
"I am inviting my fellow youth to do volunteer work, even in simple things, and it must start within us. Volunteerism does not only mean serving in an organization; you can do volunteer acts even in simple day-to-day scenarios like doing household chores at home, helping elders and people with disabilities cross the street, and others," she said.
“My fellow youth, let us trust God’s plan for us. We should not be afraid because God is with us and loves us," she added.
Pepito’s WYD journey started in the spirit of volunteerism as a volunteer educator of Josefa Segovia Foundation, Inc. (JSF), an NGO of the Teresian Association based in Davao City, southern Philippines, for the past two years.
The JSF and Education for an Interdependent World (Ediw), a non-profit international organization, have an ongoing partnership program that empowers young people to promote and foster actions and projects to build an inclusive society towards a better understanding of a multicultural and interdependent world.
As a JSF volunteer educator, Pepito serves as the coordinator for the children from Indigenous Cultural Communities during their interactive online classes.
"I am also a proud youth member of St. John Paul II Parish in Davao City, and I am serving our chapel, GKK San Francisco de Assisi, as one of the lectors during Holy Mass," Pepito said.
She always keeps the spirit of volunteerism in her, and how it led her to be one of the IT Youth representatives during this worldwide youth gathering is indeed a grace.
Miss Emma Melgarejo, a TA member and a country representative of Ediw in the Philippines, invited her to join the WYD 2023.
The Teresian Association paved the way for her to experience the WYD. The Teresian Association Youth Ministry (TAYM) provided him and others with formation sessions.
"They helped us prepare spiritually, physically, psychologically, and emotionally before going to Lisbon for the WYD. They organized a send-off Mass that inspired us to ‘go with haste,'" she added.
"The Josefa Segovia Foundation, Inc. (JSF) equipped me with survival skills for my WYD journey," she said.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.