Young pilgrims feel emboldened by dramatic vigil experience

By Lorna Cruz

Madrid, Spain, Aug 20, 2011 / 07:43 pm (CNA).- Young people at the Cuatro Vientos air base felt their passion for God and the Church renewed after experiencing an evening of torrential rainstorms together with Pope Benedict XVI on August 20.

Youth attend a Vigil at Cuatro Vientos during WYD 2011

“To see the man that is leading you and the world in your faith, and the fact that he cares enough to put up with the rain himself, is so inspiring,” Michelle Emit, a 19-year old Australian, told CNA.

Speaking from the heart and full of passion, Emit said that seeing and hearing the Pope, with so many other young people, “makes you want more than anything to be Catholic and devote your whole life to Jesus Christ.”

Such moments “redirect your life to Christ” and put things back in perspective, she reflected. “I am so glad to be Catholic and to be here!”

For 17-year old Pablo Zanoso, an event volunteer from Spain, the storm made for an anxious night – but seeing the Pope from one of the closest rows, he said, was indescribable.

“We have shown him great love, and he has shown it back to us, considering us friends – what else can you ask for?”

Zanoso said the fearless response to the storm, on the part of the Pope and all those present, shows how the Church “demonstrates that it is strong.”

“It can evangelize, and re-evangelize, Europe and the rest of the world,” thanks to people who “pray and fight for the world to be closer to what Christ wanted for it.”

After seeing the Pope during the Stations of the Cross and at the vigil, the young volunteer was excited to be with him again for Sunday Mass. “It is a huge privilege – your legs start to shake!”

Listening to the Pope’s message inspired 19-year old Canadian Anne Dollie to “be more active in my parish and the Church,” she told CNA.

She also saw the Pope from one of the rows closest to the stage, and said it was “unbelievable.”

“He was so joyful and everyone else was, too.” She thanked God for the opportunity, despite the rain.

In the past, Dollie felt “alone” in her faith. But in the presence of so many others gathered to worship God, “my heart was just lifted up.”

“I know Jesus is here. I can feel it,” she said, radiant with excitement and looking forward to tomorrow’s Mass.