World Youth Day gives students new cultural perspective

By The Beacon | October 24, 2012 9:00pm

Molly Tuinstra (The Beacon)

By Molly Tuinstra, Guest Commentary

As I reflect on my time spent here I realize that attending the University of Portland has opened doors for me that I never imagined. I have made countless new friends, and discovered my passion for teaching and sharing my love of science with future generations.

Most recently I have been blessed with an amazing opportunity to go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next summer for World Youth Day (WYD).

For those of you who don't know, WYD is an amazing opportunity where youth from around the world to come together and celebrate their lives and their faith. This event was started by Pope John Paul II who believed in the power and zeal of the youth of the Catholic Church. He invited the youth of the world to celebrate Palm Sunday with him at the Vatican in 1984. On December 20, 1985 Pope John Paul II instituted WYD and in 1986 the first official WYD was held in Rome. Every year there are WYDs held at the diocesan-level, and every two to three years there are internationally held WYDs.

Despite the death of Pope John Paul II, this tradition has continued under Pope Benedict XVI. There is a small group of University of Portland staff and students that will be embarking to Rio next July for this pilgrimage, which marks the twelfth internationally held WYD.

During this week long event we will have the opportunity to attend several events including catechesis, cultural events, the opening mass, the Papal welcoming ceremony, Stations of the Cross and the Vigil of Youth with the Pope. For me this event is an opportunity for spiritual growth, experiencing the unity of the Catholic Church despite the diversity seen amongst cultures around the world as well as a chance to relight the fire of Christ in my heart.

I invite you to support us in our pilgrimage November 2nd at Ukulele Night in the Mehling Ballroom. In addition to a ukulele performance, the cappella group "Call our Bluff" will be singing and Fredi's Hula Talents will be performing. We will be selling delicious baked goods and holding a raffle for some great prizes including harp, voice, hula, piano and ukulele lessons, a serenade from "Call our Bluff" and two $250 cash prizes. Furthermore, we will have henna. Tickets only cost three dollars to get in and that includes one raffle ticket. Additional raffle tickets can be bought for two dollars each.

Molly Tuinstra is a senior secondary education major and biology minor. She can be contacted at