"In my years as a bishop, I have learned one thing," said Pope Francis. "Nothing is more beautiful than seeing the enthusiasm, dedication, zeal and energy with which so many young people live their lives. When Jesus touches a young person's heart, he or she becomes capable of truly great things."
I remember listening to those words and looking at my fellow pilgrims. My first instinct was to be skeptical of what he was saying and I thought, "Is he really talking about us?" The Holy Father saw great potential in us. He told us to move beyond our comfort zone and go into the world with an enthusiasm for mission. He told us that the Church looked to us and want to learn from us because God's mercy has "an ever-youthful face."
As I sat there on the cold, wet lawn of Blonia Park, I couldn't help but let myself dream of what that Church would be like. The Church could be transformed if the millions gathered there that day went back home with the same enthusiasm and joy that we all had as we welcomed Pope Francis that day.
This is the feeling that I'm trying to bottle up for a rainy day. Now that I'm back home, it's harder to feel the same kind of excitement that is the magic of World Youth Day. I'm trying to keep all my photos, journal writings and souvenirs close by because I want to always be reminded of the promise we, pilgrims, made that day with our Holy Father.
He ended his address that day by saying, "All together, then, we ask the Lord: 'Launch us on the adventure of mercy!... We want to affirm that our lives are fulfilled when they are shaped by mercy, for this is the better part, and it will never be taken from us."
As we conclude our WYD pilgrims' blog, I'd like to offer encouragement to my fellow pilgrims. Stay firm in the faith. Keep reminders of your experience with you, so that when things get hard and we lose sight of that enthusiasm and joy, it will be there to encourage you. Our Church at home - our families, our parishes, our dioceses - is starving for that youthful face of mercy.