Special to The Dialog
WILMINGTON — On March 31, a cold and rainy Saturday, I joined 900 other young people for a three-mile walk, carrying the Pilgrimage Cross through the streets of Wilmington. The third annual diocesan We Walk by Faith Pilgrimage, sponsored by Catholic Youth Ministry, was an opportunity for us to demonstrate our commitment to our faith and to remember Jesus’ journey through the streets of Jerusalem.
When we began our journey at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Bishop Malooly reminded us of the three practices he encourages us to live out each day: to pray every day, serve others, and smile. Bishop Malooly told us that as we walked, we could show others how important our faith was as we demonstrated these practices.
He was right. Residents came out from their homes to see what our pilgrimage was about and ask why we were walking. It made people happy to see so many young people smiling and walking through the streets for such a positive reason. As we walked, representatives from each of the parishes and schools present carried the Pilgrimage Cross.
We traveled from St. Thomas the Apostle to St. Anthony’s Church for a concert by ValLimar Jansen who was our emcee for the day. The gym at St. Anthony’s was packed with teenagers and adults dancing and singing along with Val. Her energy and the way she led us all in song was not something I think most of us thought of as traditional worship. She had the ability to bring everyone to his or her feet, jumping and clapping, and in the next moment lead us into quiet prayer as we sang “Sacred Silence.”
I distinctly remember looking back at all the people in the gym as we did the hand motions to “Yes, Lord,” and how Val applied the lyrics to the events of the day. In between each refrain she would ask if we believed in Jesus and his call to discipleship. She asked if we were willing to live out that call and we responded with the refrain, “Yes, yes, Lord. Amen.”
Another highlight of our time at St. Anthony’s was seeing the number of youth in line to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Despite the different atmosphere between the concert in the gym and the reverence in the church, both were places where we felt the presence and love of God.
We left St. Anthony’s to travel to St. Paul’s for Eucharistic adoration. As we walked down Jackson Street, it was the first time I saw the length of the crowd that stretched for blocks. I understood what an impression we were making on the people of Wilmington.
At St. Paul’s, we once again experienced a different kind of worship as we listened to the Hispanic choir. The sounds of the instruments and their voices made me realize that, regardless of the language, we share the same faith and say the same prayers.
At Padua, our favorite song is “We Are One Body.” We sing it as a celebration of our sisterhood and the unity we share in both the good times and the difficult ones. It was at St. Paul’s that I clearly saw the reality of this song in a whole new way.
The day continued with Stations of the Cross at St. Hedwig before we journeyed uphill to St. Elizabeth for Palm Sunday liturgy.
Although St. Elizabeth is the largest church in the diocese, it was standing-room only for Mass. This was the perfect ending to a day that brought people from all over the diocese together to Walk by Faith.
Lucy Vavala is a sophomore at Padua Academy in Wilmington.