Gemma is second from the left on the front row
Gemma represented the young CAFOD Supporters in Shrewsbury Diocese.
This is her personal reflection of her experiences.
Despite the very early start, I was very much looking forward to the weekend and what it would involve. My friends thought that it was quite brave of me to be travelling from Chester to London solo and that I would not know anyone that would be there, but I was quite excited to be involved in this amazing experience and to have been given this opportunity. When the phone call first came I was quite shocked that I should be nominated to be part of this group of just 18 people from all over the country. Meeting other young people and listening to different presentations about CAFOD gave a real insight into the work that CAFOD does in more detail and was very interesting to listen to. It has made me want to volunteer even more for CAFOD and help out in any way I can, building on the ways I already am involved.
After another early start, dressed in our black rugby shirts with our ‘pilgrim passports’ and wristbands ready, we set off for Westminster Cathedral where we gathered outside with other groups of young people in their respective coloured T-Shirts. Some people often make potentially hurtful remarks about my faith to me, it was an inspirational and warming feeling to be part of a large group of people who openly show their faith in singing, cheering and showing respect. It was an entirely different feeling to be a part of such a large group of catholic youth compared to at home where you can often feel isolated and alone in an increasingly secular society. What also struck me was that the sun seemed to come out when communion began to be handed out, which made me feel like this was exactly where God wants me to be and where I was supposed to be at that moment.
In Hyde Park, where the Pope seemed very happy to be among so many young people, speaking encouragingly to them about their role in the Church today: with youth groups at the front in an assortment of colours, many acts and entertainment, Mexican waves, cheering and loud singing of hymns, there was a festival atmosphere with thousands celebrating and proud of their faith. I knew that nothing like this would happen in my school or local community. I was and am really glad to have been a part of it. The whole experience of the weekend was amazing and I am sure I will remember it for years to come.