Mini World Youth Day in Durban, South Africa
In December 2017, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (spearheaded by Cardinal Napier OFM) hosted a Mini World Youth Day (MWYD) pilgrimage in Durban, South Africa. Over 3000 Catholic youth, from various southern African countries, gathered under the theme: “The mighty one has done great things for me and Holy is His name.”
The pilgrimage presented a unique opportunity for South African Vincentian youth to meet, engage with and form connections with Vincentian youth from various parts of Southern Africa. The Vincentian pilgrims danced, praised, contemplated in meditation and spiritual reflection, took (plenty of) selfies and received the blessed Eucharist in union with each other and the MWYD pilgrims. MWYD was for Vincentian pilgrims a chance to share ideas for growing and working together beyond online group messages.
Gathered together, the energy of the Vincentian family umbrella was palpable. A case in point was the SSVP stall at the vocations fair. This stall allowed MWYD participants to explore options towards meeting their personal calling. The SSVP stand stood out for the vibrancy of its youth who loved the opportunity to learn and share information about Blessed Frederic Ozanam and the history of SSVP. Our Vincentians enjoyed sharing their individual experiences of what it means to be a member of SSVP and how this has been expressed in the works that they do in their respective conferences and communities.
The joy of meeting other young people who were interested in knowing about the work of SSVP and wanting to do more in their own communities and lives was nothing short of exciting! Many of them identified SSVP as a potential vocation.
A group highlight at MWYD was the gathering of Vincentians on stage to present SSVP goodie hampers to youth that had entered our stall competition. All the entrants had expressed an interest in establishing or joining a conference in their area. The Vincentians, dressed in an array of different coloured t-shirts that represented which areas they came from highlighted the beauty of diversity within SSVP and demonstrated that it is an organisation that is open to all.
A further highlight was the presentation of SSVP thank you hampers to various members of the clergy who had been instrumental in advancing the works of the society within their respective areas. This included bishops and priest from across Southern Africa, sisters that work in remote outskirt communities, Cardinal Napier and the Apostolic Nuncio to Southern Africa, Archbishop Peter Wells who presided over the closing mass and blessed pilgrims for the upcoming World Youth Day in Panama.
This pilgrimage provided an opportunity for SSVP youth members of South Africa to form deeper connections with each other. We hope that these pilgrims, continue to be encouraged by the spirit and energy from MWYD, to do great things in their communities in Honour of His name.