World Youth Day 2005, Cologne: The Journey Leads To The Lord

By Avic Vera

My Yuppeace friends and I were ecstatic, when we received our confirmation letters from the WYD organizers; we had been accepted as volunteers for WYD in Cologne, Germany. It was my first time to be a WYD volunteer, and my first time in Europe.

Cologne Cathedral

‘The air smells sooo good here!’, was my first impression of Köln (German for Cologne). We had just visited the Kölner Dom, the famous Gothic Cathedral of Cologne, which houses the relics of the three Magi, preserved in a delicately wrought golden reliquary studded with gems.

 

World Youth Day 2005, Cologne:  The Journey Leads To The Lord

My teammates and I were assigned as usherettes, while other volunteers served as marshals, animators, small group discussion facilitators, etc. There were thousands of volunteers assisting hundreds of thousands of delegate. It was tiring work, stretching late into the night, but one could not find a more committed and fulfilled workforce than the WYD volunteers.

Pilgrims in front of Cologne Cathedral

Just like the first time I saw the late Pope John Paul II in WYD Toronto, I felt a wave of euphoria washing over me upon seeing Pope Benedict XVI on a wide screen in Media Park. Drawing from the WYD theme, ‘We have come to worship him’, the new Pope was speaking about the gifts of the three Magi for the Child in Bethlehem. The gift of gold symbolizes our lives and our faithful response to His call, the incense represents our prayers rising to praise Him in heaven while myrrh stands for our love for the Son of God who died for us on Golgotha. The Holy Father appealed to the youth who have discovered Christ not to keep their joy to themselves but, like the Star of Bethlehem, to lead others to the Lord. He would later re-echo the same appeal, in several languages, including Tagalog: ‘Kayong mga nasa Silangan, dalhin ninyo ang liwanag at pag-ibig sa inyong bayan’. His message, spoken and heard, drew a smile as it passed my lips on the way to my heart, where it waited to be shared . . . but not for long.

When I arrived home, I was asked to be the Yuppeace Vice President for Animation and I accepted.