Greg Garda is a University of Toronto student and is actively involved in ministry at the Newman Centre. He recently returned from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, which he attended with Solidarity Experiences Abroad, a ministry based at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. The following is his reflection on his pilgrimage experience.
|Greg Garda. Photo Courtesy of Josh Canning.|
On his first papal visit to Rio de Janeiro, while in a helicopter ride over the city, Blessed John Paul II described the city as a place where God’s creation and human creation meet in harmony. In my opinion, JPII’s observation is the best way to describe Rio. I travelled to Rio de Janeiro in 2009 for a mission trip and came away feeling it was the most beautiful place I had ever visited. Since 2009 I have been to many places around the world, but my initial impression of Rio still holds true and was reinforced during World Youth Day 2013.
Our Catholic tradition teaches that grace builds on nature, thus giving nature supernatural characteristics. Nothing screams of God’s outpouring of supernatural grace better than three million people praising and worshiping God with the successor of Peter on the golden sands of Copacabana beach; the blue vastness of the Atlantic Ocean on the right and the green mountains of the Amazon on the left. Looking around, all I could see was an endless ocean of young people in solidarity before Christ. In Canada we are repeatedly told that faith is becoming irrelevant. To those people, I say, “sorry, I couldn’t quite hear you over the deafening silence of three million young people in prayer.”
|Greg playing with children while volunteering in Peru before World Youth Day.|
|Greg on Copacabana Beach.|