In July of 2011, I was innocently sitting on my couch, beginning to read a gift from my dear friend and confessor, Richard Gribble, CSC. It was the biography of Servant of God, Patrick Peyton, which he had penned and gave to me after learning I made a pilgrimage to Fr. Peyton’s grave as often as I visited the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which I’m blessed to receive weekly. This time in prayer at Fr. Peyton’s grave has been the source of countless blessings and grace; how often does one have such access to privately pray before a (soon-to-be) saint?
Me, a pilgrim?
This day was significant because it was the day Pope Benedict XVI announced that the next World Youth Day would be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since I’d never personally been to a WYD and was comfortably in my 40s, the announcement sort of sailed in one ear and out of the other. Yet, as I sat with this book, I had this unshakable feeling I was being called to attend this event in Rio.
I rarely test the Lord in this peculiar manner, but I was unable to shake this nudging of the Holy Spirit and also pretty sure there would be nothing in this book I was holding that would validate this feeling. I decided to pray for a sign, closed my eyes, opened the biography to a random page, and as my eyes refocused on the page it was clear I’d have to seriously consider the WYD option - as I read the words, “Rio de Janeiro”!
Though this was arguably a fairly significant sign, I tabled the idea for about eight months, until during one of my 3 o’clock holy hours the Rio World Youth Day thought crept up again. This time, my question to God was all about logistics; not being affiliated with a youth group, and definitely way out of the ‘young adult’ realm, I merely asked whom was I to travel. God, knowing my patience is truly limited, answered rather quickly and clearly. As I prayed, I remembered the Boston Deaf Apostolate had traveled to Madrid. Although I hadn’t participated with the group’s activities, I had made contact for my daughter, Faith, who is profoundly deaf.
I emailed the Director of the Apostolate, Rev. Shawn Carey, and inquired if they were planning to participate in World Youth Day. Fr. Shawn, a Deaf priest, wrote back within an hour, affirming their plans, and asking me to join them as an adult leader! I hadn’t mentioned in my email any intentions of joining, but since this seemed to be how the Holy Spirit translated it, who was I to argue? So having had all my questions and trepidations duly answered by my Loving Heavenly Father, I signed myself up.
Now, here we are, just weeks away from the big trip, and God has continued to lavish me with blessings. My 17-year-old son, Ian, has chosen to join us. God provided the funding for both of our expenses. Thirdly, I have been given a unique and amazing opportunity to blog my experiences, especially from the deaf/hearing perspective, for the Ignatian Spirituality (Loyola Press) web and Facebook pages (they'll also be available on my website).
Lastly, and definitely one of the more exciting developments from my perspective, is being given the opportunity to rent a smartphone (Android, of course) while in Rio, and furthermore being in a hotel with WiFi access to navigate WYD activities and events, as well as provide me the necessary tool to send back lots of information and reflections as a WYD Pilgrim.
Fun apps and web content I'll be using
The Official English Rio 2013 World Youth Day website
New World Youth Day App: Follow the Cross
“The JMJ Follow the Cross application allows the trajectory of the Cross and the icon of Our Lady to be followed throughout the World Youth Day with the geolocation feature. The route to where the Cross is located can also be shared via Twitter or Facebook. The application is a project developed by WYD Rio 2013.” Source: Google Play
Rio2013 Official App:
Truly a must-have for navigating the weeks activities. It is described on Google Play as, “World Youth Day, an international meeting of young people with the Pope, comes to Brazil in 2013. Considered the largest global event aimed at young people, the 28th event ever held will take place between the 23rd and the 28th of July in Rio de Janeiro. With the motto “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28, 19), the meeting will be attended by Pope Francis and will have as its main objective to share the message of Christ with all the youth of the world.
Information about logistics, transport, food, as well as the official schedule can be found on the Rio2013 app.”
(Screen shot from: Google Play)
Can I pray for you?
One of the most important elements of a pilgrimage is taking along the prayers of others. In order for me to take as many as I can, and to continue to do so while I am there – especially to have all the names and prayers in one place for Adoration with the Blessed Father, leave prayer requests on my Reconciled To You Facebook page – beginning now and through our departure home on July 31.
Copyright 2013 Allison Gingras
About the Author
Allison Gingras created the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV), including "The Gift of Invitation" and "Seeking Peace: A Spiritual Journey from Worry to Trust." Her ministry focuses on the grace of prayer, Scripture, and sacrament. Allison is the national WINE Steward for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization and hosts A Seeking Heart podcast.