Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 9, 2002
Lost and bewildered in Toronto
By ROBIN BRACONNIER
Originally, my motivation to go to World Youth Day was sparked by my grandma, Ursula Martin. She dedicated herself to religion. She travelled to missions and meetings all over the world till the last year of her life. She faced obstacles in her pilgrimages like ailing health. However, this never stopped her.
As a present, my grandma gave my sister and I the cost of registration to go to World Youth Day. I had considered participating, but after receiving her gift, I felt responsible to carry out her intentions.
I am so enlightened by World Youth Day; I have no regrets. It feels like a year's worth of experience has been crammed into one week.
Although there were many good times, the trip was far from easy. When my sister and I were making our farewells before leaving on a plane, my mother said something that stuck with me through the tough times. She said, "You're not going on a pilgrimage to have fun. Expect it to be difficult."
It sure was a challenge for two girls who grew up in a town where a traffic jam consists of two farmers in a conversation in the middle of Main Street. I have never seen so many people in my entire life.
One lesson I learned is to put faith in other people. An example of where I had to use this faith occurred when my sister and I got lost - one of the many times.
I had previously made plans to connect with a friend who lived in Toronto.
At first, her directions seemed simple and straightforward. However, one small mix up between a street name and a subway station collapsed the whole plan of attack. Utterly dismayed, we crawled out of a crammed subway to surface on completely alien territory. We were lost like two needles in a haystack.
As we stood there completely bewildered, our guardian angel appeared with a warm grin and asked if we were lost. He friendly face set an aura of trust which drew us like bees to honey.
The lady rooted through our mass confusion which she called a map of Toronto until we found our destination and then created a new game plan. She sent us into the pouring rain with a clarity we had not experienced from the moment we arrived.
I will probably never see her again, but I'll never forget her kindness.
How can I describe how I felt at World Youth Day? There is so much to tell. Feelings of pride in my religion to know that although you feel alone, never be afraid to be Catholic because there are millions of people who face the same struggles but are still proud to believe what they do. I feel so privileged to have been five feet from the pope and to listen to him speak.
A man seated beside me on our flight to Toronto said, "Don't let education get in the way of your learning." A pilgrimage is a chance to love by living.