This post talks about my World Youth Day experience in Panama City, Panama. I am beyond excited to share this post with you, especially because I created a video to accompany it! Click the HD button when watching it! After hours of editing and graphic designing, this video has finally come to life and gives an incredible view of the entire trip. It’s right above, so check it out!
First Off, Victoria, Explain to Me What is World Youth Day and Why You Would Fly All The Way to Panama for Only a Day
Despite the name World Youth Day, this event actually lasts nearly an entire week! World Youth Day is a like a big festival, some would even call it like a Catholic Coachella, where Catholic and Christian youth from all around the world meet up in a certain location every three years. This year, the event took place in Panama City, Panama. In 2022, the location will be in Lisbon, Portugal.
The goal of World Youth Day is to empower youth with God’s word and to celebrate Jesus, particularly through a Catholic lens. The entire thing is so much fun, extremely hyped up, and leaves you with a deeper understanding of your faith, making you come to realize where you stand with it and perhaps even make you see where you might want to move to with it.
If you are interested, I greatly encourage you to go! There are so many organizations around different countries that will take people to experience it. Click here to find more about this program. If you have any questions, definitely contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comment section below! 🙂
Now for the best part: sharing my experience with you! When you read this, enjoy the experience. Please laugh at my silly mistakes and mishaps. Ponder what this post might be telling you to do. Take a sweet break from your world for a second to be transported into another that might inspire you!
And here we go!
Arriving in Panama!
Picture this: it’s subzero degrees (a little bit of an exaggeration) in your hometown. It’s freezing in the airport and you can’t imagine what it’s like to even be in sixty degree weather. Then, just a day later, you step foot in Panama, where the heat index is 97 degrees. That’s what happened to me.
From the moment our plane landed to the time when I boarded the flight coming back home, the weather was gorgeous and satisfied my love of warm weather. In addition to the weather, the welcoming of the country for all of the World Youth Day pilgrims was especially warm (see what did I there? 😉 ).
English Speaker Ceremony & Adoration
Depending on what language your group spoke, you would go to ceremonies where they spoke in your desired language and hear speakers, have mass, and celebrate your faith with others.
My group attended the English-speaker ceremony on Wednesday, where we heard Bishop Edward Burns speak about God’s plan for him and then got to participate in mass. Bishop Burns shared a beautiful story about how he found his calling and then answered questions from the crowd.
“Saying yes to God is the highest praise we can give him.” -Bishop Edward Burns
The mass was amazing because it featured some awesome Christian music and was also a neat experience to share with so many other people. Later that night, we went to an English speaker adoration center.
When we first arrived, there were speakers talking about their faith and coming to know Jesus. Once we found some seats for the group to sit down, we grabbed dinner at a food truck right outside of the center. For the rest of the night, we were inside, listening to more speakers and music.
Now, our group got confused when we were supposed to leave this center. We thought it ended at 11 P.M. (it was around ten), so we lingered around the center, wondering why so many people were leaving. Then, when we were asked to leave the place by the security guards, we discovered that the whole celebration of the night ended at 10 P.M. and that we all had to leave immediately so that they could clean up the center.
As about at least another thousand people also hurry to leave, our group ends up being one of the last people to get on the bus and metro back to our hotel. I think we got to the hotel around 2 A.M.! We waited for at least forty minutes for a bus to come take us to the nearest metro stop. Luckily, I brought a deck of UNO and my friends and I sat on the sidewalk, casually playing this game to distract us. It was an unforgettable experience but really fun!
Exploring Panama & the Canal
In addition to the WYD celebration, my group got to take a one day excursion to the Panama Canal and see the ruins of the very first Panamanian city establishment. First, we got up early to arrive at the Panama Canal around 7:50 A.M. It so worth it because we go to skip the long line afterwards.
*Tip: When visiting Panama Canal, try to arrive before they open the museum doors at 8 A.M. This way, you can avoid a long line and also get an uncrowded view of the canal observation deck, perfect for photo-ops!
The canal was beautiful, especially because we got to see it with the reflection of the big, illuminating sun. There was even a cruise ship passing by! The museum goes into depth about the history behind the creation. I was shocked to learn that manatees live in the waters of the canal!
The Pilgrimage & Closing Ceremony
Along the entire week, we attended a bunch of scattered events. Finally, Saturday arrived and I had to do the thing I was most not looking forward to: making the long pilgrimage to the Sunday mass site and sleeping outside on Saturday night.
Like most other pilgrims, I packed my sleeping pouch and necessities for the Saturday night when we all (the 170,000 of us!) slept outside. We had a ceremony at night, prayed the rosary, headed to bed, and then woke up at 6 A.M. to get ready for the closing mass where the Pope came to talk.
It was actually my first time sleeping outside! Despite being a girl scout when I was in third grade, I had never been camping before, haha! It was a fun experience being able to do this and despite having a scare of spiders at night and being woken up by loud microphones in the early morning, it was super memorable and I would do it again!
Pope Francis left an inspiring message for all at the mass. He said that all people have a mission in this world and that we cannot delay it. We cannot wait until we are older or more experienced to start the change we want to see. He encouraged all the youth in the crowd to act now and not wait. It was very moving!
I had a wonderful time in the city and wish I could return to Panama! Especially since it’s so cold around here and I’m itching for warmth.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Have a lovely day and feel free to contact me with any questions about the trip. If you haven’t already, check out my video up at the top of this post!
Quote of the post:
“Most of the time, what stands between me and God are the lies I tell myself.” ~unknown