Two young St Vincent de Paul volunteers from Carrick-on-Suir were among the millions of pilgrims who gathered at Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro for the World Youth Day masses celebrated by Pope Francis.
Michael Keegan from Westgate and Brian Kenny from Dunbane, both members of St Colman’s St Vincent de Paul Youth Conference, attended the International Meeting of Vincentian Youth at Belo Horizonte in Brazil from July 18 to 21.
They finished their visit to Brazil at the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day from July 22 to 29 attended by millions of young pilgrims from around the world.
Michael, a social care worker, spoke at masses at St Nicholas Church last week about their experiences.
He described how he and Brian, who works for Super Valu in Carrick, spent over a week sleeping on a floor in a room in Rio during the World Youth Day celebrations and were on Copacabana beach for the Pope’s opening mass attended by more than 1 million people and his final Mass celebrated before 3 million pilgrims.
“The friends I made, the things I’ve seen and the experiences I’ve had, made it a trip I will never forget. I’ve experienced some things many people never will from a rapping priest to samba dancing on a street corner at 3am; from the Christ the Redeemer statue that stands ever-present protecting the people of Rio, to being part of the 3 million pilgrims, who attended the final Mass with Pope Francis on Copacabana beach,” he told mass goers.
Michael, aged 29, estimates he attended 45 hours of mass while in Brazil, and found the ceremonies very uplifting. “I’ve seen a version of the Church that I’ve never seen here in Ireland. A Church full of love, energy, passion and hope. A Church where Mass is actually celebrated, not just said. Maybe under Pope Francis, things here will change and people will begin engaging with the Church and their faith in a new way.”