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Close encounter as Pope arrives at World Youth Day

On Day Four of World Youth Day in Panama Pope Francis arrived for the official opening ceremony and the East Anglia group got close enough to him to take some pictures. Jess McCall reports.

Today started with our catechesis session’s key speaker being Bishop Alan Williams from the Diocese of Brentwood and a past rector of the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. He spoke about Mary and her “yes” to God and that we should learn from her.

Also that we should start asking “what do you want from me Lord” that we should not only serve God but also each other.

As a part of his talk he asked us to bring up the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to the front and put her on the altar so that the entire group could learn about her. As an English-speaking session it was a great opportunity to spread the news about Our Lady of Walsingham.

In the afternoon we went to the main opening ceremony with Pope Francis. We managed to see the Pope as he went past, heading towards the stage and got some great pictures – it was amazing how close we were.

Pope Francis talked about not being afraid to take risks and that we should keep walking, because disciples keep walking. He said we should be united, that our differences should work in harmony and that we should build bridges but not walls.

Pope Francis was quoted as saying: “How good it is to get together again, this time in a land that receives us with such radiance and warmth! As we gather in Panama, World Youth Day is once more a celebration of joy and hope for the whole Church and, for the world, a witness of faith.”

It was an amazing opportunity to hear the Pope speak and we’re all looking forward to the final vigil on Saturday!

Pictured above is Pope Francis arriving at the World Youth Day Opening Ceremony, Our Lady’s statue at the catechesis session and the the East Anglia group. Images by Clive Sheridan.