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World Youth Day Recap - Katie's Journey

Hi everyone! This is Katie again to reflect on my WYD experience in Lisbon. I am happy to share about the beautiful time I had in worship and prayer with people from all over the world!

I began my time in Lisbon with Sunday Mass at Estrela Basilica. If you have never attended Mass in a different country or in a different language, I highly recommend it! There is something so special about praying along with strangers who worship the same God in the Catholic Mass. It really makes the Church feel universal!

I then met up with a friend, Claire, who I met in Florence during my study abroad in Italy. We were both signed up with Regnum Christi Italy for WYD. Regnum Christi is a Federation in the Catholic Church made up of four different vocations: priests, consecrated women, lay consecrated men, and lay members. I met a Regnum Christi priest in Florence who invited me on the WYD with Italy. All that to say, Regnum Christi was kinda my group of people during WYD!

Claire and I then made our way to our accommodations for the week, which was a school outside of Lisbon in a town called Pinhal Novo. We basically camped out in this school with complete strangers haha. There were a couple familiar faces from zoom, but I had never met anyone we were staying with beforehand. I really did not know what I signed up for haha. But I knew the Lord would provide and see me through!

Eventually our other friend from Florence, Jeannette, arrived. She came with t-shirts from our Upper Room group where we met, with the intent of us representing Upper Room at WYD. It felt great to have a small reunion with friends from Italy. I am so grateful I could experience WYD with people I already travelled with who could support me in my faith on the pilgrimage.

Throughout the week, I attended events like all of the Regnum Christi introductions and an Italian festival! We also took a day trip to Fatima, which was amazing! At Fatima, we had Mass with Regnum Christi Italy and Germany. The homily was preached in Italian and German, which was so cool! After Mass, we had free time until meeting back up again with our group. During this time, I was able to witness believers on their knees making their way to the Apparition site of Our Lady of Fatima. We were able to get super close to the site and pray with so many other pilgrims. There were also people kneeling around the Apparition site to show honor to Our Lady where she appeared. This was a moment I hope I never forget from my time in Portugal.

Side note, I did get sick on this trip, so I was not able to participate in everything. However, one of my favorite memories from WYD happened when I stayed back at the school and slept in one of the days. I planned to go into Lisbon for the day, as I walked past the volunteers at my school who took care of us. One of them invited me to have lunch with the group of Portuguese volunteers, and I said yes. This meal turned out to be an authentic homemade Portuguese lunch with all sorts of dishes and dessert. I was able to talk with the locals and learn more about their culture, which I hadn’t learned a lot about during my time in Portugal. I love meeting new people and learning about different cultures, so this was a really beautiful time for me! Later this day, there was Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis scheduled.

These Stations of the Cross were multilingual with personal stories of tragedy that went along with each station. These Stations reminded me of the ones I attended in Rome on Good Friday at the Colosseum. They also included personal stories with each station that were heartbreaking. I recommend looking these up on EWTN and praying these Stations of the Cross on Fridays or during Lent if you can.

The main event that we were leading up to throughout the week was Mass with Pope Francis on Sunday. A part of the pilgrimage is everyone walking to the camp site where we would sleep outside under the stars, and then have Mass the next morning all together. We left Pinhal Novo in the late morning for the camp site. It was so crazy taking pubic transportation with SO many people haha. I was like a sardine on the train just barely getting my backpack on so the doors could close. Once we got off the public transport, we were given a huge bag of food and drinks to last us until the next day. It was really hot while we were walking, and I remember being happy to have about a gallon of water handed to me by the volunteers in my bag.

We finally made it to our spot in the field before 4pm, and we set up camp. I’m glad I brought my umbrella because even though it didn’t rain, I used it to keep the sun off of me! It was so hot, and we were roasting in the field until the sun started to set. Once it got dark, a drone light show was displayed with “RISE UP” in several languages in the sky. We had Adoration that night as well! How amazing to worship Jesus with thousands of other people! Then it was time to sleep under stars and wait for the pope in the morning!

Waking up outside in the field was so special. Surrounded by so many Catholics who were waiting for our Holy Father was absolutely beautiful. Pope Francis paraded around in the popemobile before Mass! The anticipation was building and it was almost time for what we were all waiting for. Mass was amazing! Pope Francis preached about us rising up and not being afraid during the homily. I felt encouraged to go out on mission.

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to attend WYD 2023. It was a challenging time, but also so rewarding. God is faithful, and He is calling His children to go out. He wants us to trust Him and take the leap of faith. What is God calling you to that you are afraid of? Don’t be afraid to walk on the water—He won’t let you drown.


Katie is our intern for the summer of 2023 and Young Adult Core Member. She loves baking, traveling (especially to Italy), and the Lord!

She is a student at Buff State approaching her last semester of Environmental Geography and is looking forward to what the Lord has in store!


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