By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
COPPELL — As she sat on the campus of St. Ann Catholic Parish, 23-year-old Ale Taliente admitted she would have loved the opportunity to have joined the pilgrims in Lisbon, Portugal. She was grateful, though, to capture that spirit here in north Texas, joining hundreds of high schoolers and young adults for World Youth Day Takes Dallas.
“I think sometimes we forget that the Catholic world is a lot bigger than just the parish we go to,” said Taliente, who attends Christ the King Catholic Church. “For me, this is a little like what they are feeling in Portugal. At World Youth Day, they are meeting Catholics from all over the world. Here, we are doing something similar and meeting Catholics from all over the Diocese of Dallas.”
An effort hosted by the diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries; World Youth Day Takes Dallas offered times for prayer, worship and focus on Mary. Participants heard talks from dynamic speakers such as Gian Gamboa, director of formation and ministry at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin, and Father Elmer Herrera Guzman, pastoral administrator of Holy Cross Catholic Church. In addition, the Dave More Band and musician Abraham Salas provided praise-and-worship music.
“Mary is an example to us of how we should take our own Fiat and lean into the Lord,” said Jacob Coffman, associate director of content development for the Office of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries. “Through that Fiat we are able to focus on our dependency of the Lord in our own lives and the call to live our life each day. The apparitions of Mary that occurred around the world show the universal call of all God’s people to turn their eyes and focus on God.”
The day concluded with a Mass with Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly concelebrating with Father Mark Garrett and Father César García.
Embracing the faith
Alondra De Leon, 20, a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, said World Youth Day Takes Dallas provided her an opportunity to fully embrace her Catholic faith.
“I’ve been challenging myself to sincerely walk with God in my life,” said De Leon, who called the day-long experience beautiful. “I feel a lot closer to the other parishioners. I’ve enjoyed getting to know other people and being in a place where everyone has something in common, which is the Catholic faith. It has truly been something that I have loved about this experience.”
Claudia Favila, 20, traveled to Coppell fueled by a desire to meet others who shared her passion for the faith.
“I wanted to meet the many other young adults who share the same love for Jesus and Mary as I do,” said Favila, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Grand Prairie. “I also just wanted to meet new friends in the Catholic community.”
Having just entered the Catholic Church this past April, Ben Cauley, 23, now a parishioner at St. Rita Catholic Community, said he also saw the event as a good opportunity to broaden his community with other Catholics at parishes throughout Dallas.
“I’ve got to meet a lot of people from various parishes,” he said. “It’s been a tremendous experience.”
Favila agreed, praising the opportunity for fellowship as well as the bilingual celebration of faith.
“It’s been nice to be able to pray in English and Spanish, to have others who share that same faith, the same culture, and to get to meet different adults who have that same faith,” Favila said. “My favorite part I think was the worship and praise. You could feel the presence of God in all of us. God is joy, He is love, He is peace and that is all I have felt today.”
Andrea Guerra, who served as emcee for the young adults’ program at World Youth Day Takes Dallas, challenged those in attendance to get out of their comfort zones and celebrate their faith. De Leon took that message to heart.
“I want to be more open, be more able to open my heart to experience God,” she said, adding that she was touched by the time spent in reflection and prayer with the various depictions of the Marian apparitions.
“The first one that got my attention was Our Lady of La Vang. I thought I only walked up to her because she was unique and pretty, but when I read over the reflection question, I knew I was here to heal,” De Leon said. “It doesn’t matter what has happened to us in the past. At the end of the day, walking with Jesus Christ is going to heal us. We should just be open to that love.”
As the day came to a close in Coppell, Taliente said it was hard not to see the Holy Spirit at work.
“Everyone has been so on fire for the Lord,” Taliente said. “It’s been beautiful to witness.”