Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 9, 2002
Friends came to rescue during traumatic period
By WILMA SHIM
World Youth Day 2002 brought about many firsts in my life. It was my first WYD, my first time meeting the pope, my first time travelling without my parents, my first time sleeping in a school and field, my first (and hopefully my last) ride in an ambulance, and my first real faith experience.
I went to WYD, not really knowing what to expect but came home with a new perspective of life.
Our Lady of Victory School was the hotel for many Edmontonians. We slept on the floor, had cold showers from garden hoses and did not have access to the school during the day. This reminded me of homeless shelters since shelters are only open for people to stay at night. I now have a greater appreciation for my home.
The sight of many pilgrims openly expressing their faith in song and prayer overwhelmed me. After this pilgrimage, I express my faith more openly by singing in church whereas before I would only hum the tune.
During the welcoming, I was lucky to get close to the front of the stage. The experience was absolutely amazing because so many people were here for the same reason, to share a common faith. After a long wait, the pope arrived to many cheers. It was the oddest feeling ever; no one could see the pope yet his presence was felt.
I did not get a chance to see the pope when he came to Edmonton in 1984 because I was not yet born. However, after being in his presence, I felt like I had known him all of my life. I was touched to see him and tears streamed down my face as he spoke.
Seeing the pope kept me in such high spirits that I thought I was Wonder-Woman and could do without much water or food. I was so caught up with the spiritual experience that I forgot about my physical needs and before I knew it, Emergency Medical Services personnel were attending to me. Another first to add to my list - an oxygen mask and seeing dancing stars!
I was lucky to have many of the St. Joseph's Basilica members rallying around me during my time of need. They were my "parents" nagging me and babying me. "Did you drink enough water, Wilma?" It was nice to know that I was with people who were looking out for me. This exemplified how strong our faith community is.
During the trip, I was to be accompanied by an adult because I was 16, a minor, even in Toronto. I was not too fond of having to be looked after 24/7. Yet, when I was in the ambulance on a stretcher, I was grateful to have a friend beside me during such a traumatic period.
Even though I was being stared at when my stretcher was waving through the crowd, I could feel a general concern among the other participants and I felt the support of every single person. That is what Catholicism is all about - caring for one another.
Coming back to Edmonton, I feel rejuvenated, renewed, and ready to face the world. This week will be etched in my mind because it has consolidated my faith. This was my first WYD and the start of my spiritual journey as I am going to live my life as the "salt of the earth and light of the world."