The pilgrimage is over. The crowds have left. You are home and although the songs from Rome still echo in your head, you know that the World Youth Day Gathering has ended. So what do you do now? Here are some ideas that might help you after you return from Rome. Here are some ideas to help you put closure on the experience and to help you let that experience impact your community.
- Schedule a debriefing meeting. Gather the pilgrims to reflect on the experience. Take time to talk with other pilgrims about what you felt and saw. Begin to identify the ideas that you want to bring home. Make plans to give the ideas that you have gathered to the right people in your school or parish.
- Let your story be heard. Ask young people to share their experience with the larger community at a school assembly or weekend liturgy. Write personal reflections on the WYD experience and print them in parish or school newsletters. Set up meetings with local press and media to help them generate follow-up coverage.
- Host a Family Event. Have a pot luck dinner for families of those who journeyed to Rome. Share pictures and slides. Take time to pray for a successful pilgrimage and safe passage.
- Bring Gifts. Plan ahead to bring a gift back to your family, parish, or school community. Gifts might include a picture to be framed or a new song to learn and sing, a prayer card, or a piece of art. A gift can help the community share in the experience.
- Retreat Day/Evening of Reflection. Carry the message and the learning of World Youth Day back to your parish or school by hosting an evening for reflection and discussion or a retreat day.
- Keep It Going. Channel the energy and enthusiasm that you bring back into action! Brainstorm ways to continue to challenge your faith and serve those around you. Check out local volunteer service opportunities and those that allow you to share your gifts with young people all over the world. Keep a global perspective.
- Continued Service. Having participated in World Youth Day with the Holy Father, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and lay ministers, consider the possibility of continued service to the Church in priesthood or religious life. Diocesan and religious vocation ministers could follow-up on the Rome experience by offering opportunities for vocation discernment among those who participated. Dioceses might consider using an established program to invite participants, youth leaders, etc. to surface names of individuals who may demonstrate the potential for ministry and leadership in the life of the Church.
- Connect with Other Events. Carry the energy of the World Youth Day Gathering to other gathering events: diocesan young adult gatherings, diocesan youth rally, National Catholic Youth Conference, National Catholic Student Coalition Leadership Conference.
- Reflect and Pray. Encourage those who traveled to Rome to take the time to reflect and pray. Here are some possible avenues for your meditation.
What did I learn about myself? my country? my church? the world?
How am I different as a result of my journey?
What have I learned that was new? How am I the same?
What did I already know that was affirmed?
Where did I see God in my travels?
What was God's message to me?
Will my experience at WYD lead me to do anything new or different in my life?
Did my experience give me ideas that I would like to use in our parish or school community? Will WYD remain a memory or will it lead to follow-up actions? What will they be?
- Continue the momentum begun for the Rome event. In the parish, school, college develop leadership for ministry among the young adults and youth who were present; strengthen existing programs for young adults, college students and teens, or develop parish or campus programs.
Adapted from A Year of Preparation, World Youth Day '93 Resource Manual, USCC 1992.