WYD national coordinator Isabel Correa at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Isabel Correa

New national coordinator hopes to build on energy of WYD

By 
  • March 9, 2017

World Youth Day is not an isolated event, said newly appointed WYD national coordinator Isabel Correa. Rather, the international event is one opportunity among many for the Church to celebrate with young people.

Like her predecessor Fr. Thomas Rosica, who held the post since WYD Toronto in 2002, Correa intends to be an advocate of harnessing the energy of WYD and injecting it back into the the life of local youth ministry.

WYD has played a significant part in Correa’s own life. She attended her first international WYD in 1993 at Denver, Colorado. She was 18 years old and was travelling with a local parish in Montreal. Correa described her experience as a “very powerful force of change.”

“I thought I was the only one in my parish, in my own little corner that believed,” she said. “And then you experience World Youth Day and you realize that ‘Wow, you’re not alone.’ That was the overwhelming feeling and what I still hear many young adults today exclaim.”

Correa, 42, said the experience introduced her to the universal Church and at the same time opened the doors to her own local church. When she returned home, she was inspired to become more involved in parish life.

Since then, Correa has attended seven more international WYD events — Rome 2000, Toronto 2002, Cologne 2005, Sydney 2008, Madrid 2011, Rio de Janeiro 2013 and Krakow 2016. In 2004, she was appointed youth ministry director in the Archdiocese of Montreal and has organized its youth delegations to WYD.

“Right now I don’t go to World Youth Day for me personally. I go to make it easier for young people to be able to participate,” said Correa. “I work with a team of young adults and our mission from the very beginning is one of service.”

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops appointed Correa as national coordinator last month after the resignation of Rosica, Salt + Light Media CEO and English-speaking attaché to Vatican’s Synod of Bishops. As Correa learns to fill Rosica’s shoes, she is eager to bring her own vision to the role.

”I’d love to put together best practices across the country,” said Correa. “Not just for World Youth Day or the pilgrimage itself, but all of the supportive activities and all these pastoral initiatives that are there to promote the development of their relationship with Christ for young adults.”

Her main role will be to act as liaison for the WYD organizing team and the Canadian youth leaders and to facilitate events during the week of celebrations, including the Canadian youth gathering.

Canadian delegations to international WYD events can vary across the country. There are many delegations, like Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton, that coordinate hundreds of pilgrims on a diocesan level. However, there are also dioceses, like Toronto and Charlottetown, where delegations are organized by individual parishes or groups.

Correa hopes her role will allow her to connect with youth leaders across the country and share ideas.

“We’re all very unique. It’s beautiful and it’s a big country,” she said. “There’s a lot of people on the ground who are doing amazing things and if there could be more links and more networking, I think we’d be working in less isolation.”

Correa, who continues to lead the youth ministry office Montreal, said preparations for WYD must be integrated into the ministry life of the diocese.

“We’re so used to seeing World Youth Day for only those that go to a specific country, but World Youth Day is a lot more than that,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for the Church to celebrate, be with young people, and pray with young people and work with young people.”

As young Canadians gear up for WYD Panama in January 2019, Correa said the preparatory document for the 2018 Synod of Bishops needs to be part of the conversation. The 20-page text on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” is a detailed reflection on how young people live in today’s society.

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