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True Presence In Lisbon

World Youth Day


World Youth Day is not for the faint of heart. Inevitably, participating will involve sore feet, heavy bags, uncertain weather events, irregular meals and intensely crowded public transportation. In Portugal, our UST students experienced all these things plus record heat, sunburn, wildfire smoke, getting lost, fatigue and waiting hours in line for questionable meals.  

All of this raises a question: Why bother? Can’t one just read Pope Francis’ messages from the comfort of one’s home?  

Certainly, one can. But the whole point of World Youth Day is to be present with the Holy Father, to see him, to hear his voice and to live his message in person. We had to be present to meet a UST alumna from Ireland, dance with Polish pilgrims, get a UST shout-out from Bishop Cahill, encounter the seminarian who translated Pope Francis for our non-Spanish speakers, collect Archbishop Fisher’s signature on our UST flag, pray with the relics of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and go to Mass with a million-plus friends.  

Our trip was grace-filled because we were present to experience these things. True Presence requires sacrifice, but our pilgrims found it was worth it.

About the Author — Sr. Maria Frassati Jakupcak, OP

AvatarSr. Maria Frassati Jakupcak, OP is an Assistant Professor of English and Fellow of the Core. Last year she taught a study abroad class to prepare our students for World Youth Day, 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.

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