Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 9, 2002
Pilgrim's map traces homes of new friends
By ELIZABETH BATTY
World Youth Day 2002 allowed the "world" to gather together with Pope John Paul to worship together in Toronto. Some came from countries I didn't even know existed, and were so friendly and enthusiastic.
At once I had the desire to somehow record my new-found friends. I purchased a world map and, with some small maple leaf stickers I had brought from home, I asked those I met to place a sticker on the map indicating where they had come from.
Three gals from Philadelphia, whom I met on the Go-Train, were the first to mark my map. A volunteer from Scotland placed the last sticker five days later. A total of 40 countries from six continents graced my map.
During a service project one afternoon I talked with a teenager from Colombia about our homes, our voyage to Toronto, our experiences at WYD and our faith in God.
I confronted some participants from the Republic of Korea just as they were sitting down to pray before supper. Speaking through their translators, I realized the great lengths some went through to participate at WYD.
A couple from New Zealand were kind enough to shove over on the bus so I could have a seat. They spent several minutes searching my map to locate the exact island they call home. WYD had reached every corner of the globe just as Christ has.
I met a pilgrim from the Czech Republic who put my somewhat rusty French vocabulary to the test. My new friend and I had faced a difficult challenge - finding a way to communicate and we were victorious.
There was a hustle and bustle when I met a couple from Nigeria. We had only about five minutes to share each others' life stories. We swapped addresses, took pictures, and shared information on our ethnic backgrounds. In the end came an invitation to visit them in Africa.
Although I had remained in my own country, I had the feeling I had taken a trip around the world in just a few days. As I continued to meet people, my faith grew.
I sought advice to improve my spiritual self and a priest gave me the answer. He advised me to "find the Jesus" in others, no matter what. We may not like what others say or do but our Lord Jesus Christ can find good in us all and we must do likewise. Those few words have been instilled within me now.
To the founder of World Youth Day, Pope John Paul, I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" for bringing the world and its people to me in Toronto. I will always carry with me the messages delivered by Pope John Paul, the faces of those who marked my map and the ability to find the Jesus in his children. Glory be to Jesus Christ!