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World Youth Day 2013 was the trip of a lifetime. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though I’ve had countless adventures since– some of them even being abroad in Europe.  This gathering of millions of pilgrims from throughout the world was unique and unrepeatable. We were able to see Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, ride by in his popemobile down Copacabana beach as we chanted “Papa Francisco” with millions of other Catholics from throughout the world.

On our way home we held praise and worship in the Rio de Janeiro Airport and bonded over the incredible experiences of the past few weeks, during which we prepared spiritually and physically for the World Youth Day gathering, travelled to Rio, and took part in the different events of JMJ that took place there. I exchanged Facebook credentials with many people from different countries and have successfully kept in touch with a number of them. We exchange Facebook messages full of prayer intentions and eager anticipation of World Youth Day in Poland, where we will hopefully reunite to celebrate our Catholic faith once again.

For me, World Youth Day was more of an energizing & encouraging witness than any sort of sudden realization about my faith… I tried as hard as I could to be open to what God had in store for me, and I truly believe that I got as much as I possibly could out of it because of my efforts to stay in the mindset of a pilgrim, constantly persevering through the hardships that accompany the pilgrimage experience. A huge part of what I gained on this trip was growing in the virtues of patience and temperance. There were more bumps in the road for us on this trip than anyone could have predicted, and through the frustration I learned to accept and trust in God’s will in a way that I’ve never been able to do before.

Reflecting on all of this today– when it has been nearly a year since we started preparing for World Youth Day– I am astounded at how much my experiences on that pilgrimage prepared me for what I have encountered in the past year. I have developed a new perspective on life: that life is a pilgrimage, and we are all pilgrims on a journey towards heaven. And while we are on this journey, it is critical that we stay close to the Lord in any way we can. The importance of things like participating in the sacraments, adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and spending a little time each day on spiritual reading cannot be stressed enough. It is how we can know that we will be able to overcome the obstacles that lie before us, “for nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

Video  —  Posted: November 4, 2013 in World Youth Day 2013, World Youth Day Preparation
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Our group was featured in our local newspaper today!!! https://t.co/0Htdhtk58d @vcstar @WYDUSA @wyd2013rio #wyd #JMJ pic.twitter.com/chT6L6TGdB

— TheCulturedCatholic (@tccwyd2013) July 25, 2013

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Wow, I can’t believe we’ve been in Rio for four whole days already!! So much has happened in that amount of time. We arrived at the Rio de Janeiro airport, made it through customs and found our dear friends, who moved to Brazil from California about a year ago, so they could help us get situated in Rio. Since then, we have walked along Copacabana beach, ascended Sugarloaf Mountain, and visited St Sebastian Cathedral amidst a host of official World Youth Day activities.
It has been a nonstop adventure it seems, except that the other day we paused our journey for about thirty minutes for an over-the-phone interview with Ventura County Star reporter Jean Moore to talk about our trip so far. It was good for me to take a step back from the whirlwind of youthful energy in the streets of Rio; it helped me see even more clearly how lucky we are to be able to be here with all of these passionate young Catholics to witness to the love of Jesus Christ and the Church.

This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am putting in the extra hours (during which I could be sleeping– ugh I wanna sleeeep!… but i gotta finish this post :P) to share bits and pieces of our World Youth Day experience with you, my eager readers. Please spread the word about this blog and connect to our social networking sites:《facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheCulturedCatholic ; twitter: @tccwyd2013》so that anyone who desires to share in this amazing witness to the faith can learn how to be joyful, cultured Catholics in our world. ♡


Hey everyone! Only 5 days until we leave on our trip to Rio for World Youth Day!!!

I hope you are all excited to share in our World Youth Day 2013 experience! Here are some links to the various social media pages where we will be posting to update you throughout WYD:

– Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheCulturedCatholic

– Twitter: https://twitter.com/tccwyd2013

– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCulturedCatholic

(… and of course…)
– WordPress blog: https://theculturedcatholic.wordpress.com

Spread the word! Share with friends on facebook, twitter, and email, and please pray for us on our journey!

Thank you & God bless!
— Jessica

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 2.03.42 PMFollow our journey at World Youth Day 2013!
Here are some tips on how you can stay up to speed and follow along from home while we’re in Brazil:

* World Youth Day July 22-28- Don’t Miss it! Check out the free EWTN App, now available here.
* On the go? Take WYD Rio 2013 with you by downloading the EWTN App for iphone/iPad, Android or KindleFire- watch the live broadcast, follow program schedules, and Video on Demand.

Even if you can’t be there with us physically, you can come along virtually by following our video blogs as we share our pilgrimage experience, and you can watch EWTN’s live stream of World Youth Day events!!  So get excited… ‘cuz you’re coming too!😀wyd-2013

We are currently testing out our equipment for recording and videotaping while we are in Brazil so we can keep you updated on what we are doing and hopefully share as much of our pilgrimage experience with you as possible. One of our goals for this trip is to get together with passionate youth from all around the world to witness to the beauty and truth of our Catholic faith, and that means sharing our experience with as many people as possible. That’s where you come in: tell your family & friends to follow our journey as well and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something BIG. We’re not just uploading memories of a fun, comfortable vacation in a foreign country; we are witnessing to the unity of the Catholic church and the awesomeness of living a true Christian life despite what secular culture thinks or says about us.

I remember the first time I attended a Catholic young adult conference called Steubenville San Diego in 2010; I was struck by how many Catholic teens were cheering and singing and jumping up and down, excited to discover that they weren’t alone, that there were thousands of teens just like them who are passionate about their faith. This message of hope– that we are not alone– is at the center of the Church’s mission of the New Evangelization. Right now there is a great need in the United States and in Christian countries throughout the world to re-propose the Gospel and invite people to renew their relationship with Christ and the Church. We will be learning and experiencing first hand what that entails by attending catechesis sessions and gatherings at World Youth Day in Rio. Millions of Catholics from all around the world will be there to empower one another to “Go and make disciples of all nations” {Mt 28:19}, which is the theme for this year’s WYD. Join us as we embark on this mission by taking advantage of the tremendous resources we have– including Youtube, social networking sites, and EWTN’s free app– which allow us to connect and share experiences from virtually any place in the world.

–Jessica

Pope Francis WYD 2013

Hey, team! Jessica here!!
Following the list of “10 Great Ways to Prepare for World Youth Day 2013” (http://usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/wyd-preparation-tips.cfm), we will be meeting on each Sunday before we leave to prepare spiritually, physically and practically for our trip.
Here is the agenda for this Sunday:

1. Pray. 

Our opening prayer will be the official prayer for WYD 2013:

“Oh Father, You sent Your Eternal Son to save the world, and You chose men and women, so that through Him, with Him and in Him, they might proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to all nations. Grant us the necessary graces, so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the joy of being the evangelists that the Church needs in the Third Millennium may shine in the faces of all young people.

Oh Christ, Redeemer of humanity, the image of Your open arms on the top of Corcovado, welcomes all people. In Your paschal offering, You led us, by the Holy Spirit, to encounter the Father as His children. Young people, who are nourished by Eucharist, who hear You in Your Word and meet You as their brother, need your infinite mercy to walk along the paths of this world as disciples and missionaries of the New Evangelization.

Oh Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and of the Son, with the splendor of Your Truth and the fire of Your Love, shed Your Light upon all young people so that, inspired by their experience at World Youth Day, they may bring faith, hope and charity to the four corners of the earth, becoming great builders of a culture of life and peace and catalysts of a new world.

Amen !”

2. Pack.   
We will watch an instructional video about how to pack for World Youth Day and will go over what (in general) we will need for the journey, including a list of necessary first aid kit items.

3. Walk.  
To prepare physically for the trip, each Sunday we will go on a hike in Wildwood Park together. Bring comfortable shoes for hiking– this will be a good opportunity to try out the shoes that you will bring on the trip, so bring those with you to the meeting this Sunday.

4. Study.  
We will go over the general schedule for this year (see Prezi here: http://prezi.com/t0zh6ftjxlr-/world-youth-day-2013/) and review the safety information (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/world-youth-day-2013) together.

5. Learn.  
We will watch a series of YouTube videos to learn about the history of World Youth Day and to get an idea of what this once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage experience will be like.

6. Listen.

We will set up a system for emergency situations and go over what to do if we are separated from the group at any point during the trip.

7. Fast. 

We will go over the information about food and shelter during World Youth Day to provide suggestions on how to eat and drink safely in Rio de Janeiro.

8. Give.  

This is something that we can work on, each of us on our own. Here are some prayers, including the Prayer of St. Francis and a Prayer of Self-Giving:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

Prayer of Self-Giving:

I beg you, Lord,
let the fiery, gentle power
of your love
take possession of my soul,
and snatch it away
from everything under heaven,
that I may die
for love of your love
as you saw fit to die
for love of mine.

– Francis of Assisi

9. Talk.

We will be documenting our preparation and sharing our progress via YouTube videos/ a blog/ social networking sites in order to spread the word about what we are doing. This will also help us include our friends and family members who will not be going to Brazil with us but will be following our journey virtually.

10. Share.

We will discuss setting up a way of broadcasting our experience to anyone who would like to virtually follow us while we are in Brazil.Lastly, we will close by summarizing all that we learned and discussed during the meeting and end with a final prayer.

Let me know if you have any reservations or additional ideas regarding the activities this Sunday. Thanks!

–Jessica