By Louie Gombar
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os
Someone once asked how many times the bells of heaven ring when someone does something pleasing to God! Well, heaven’s bells must have been ringing off its hinges when close to 700 pairs of feet from the island’s parishes danced to the rhythm of Jesse Manibusan’s inspirational song, “All Are Welcome,” to help usher in the 34th World Youth Day Guam. The event was celebrated on Palm Sunday, Apr. 14, at the University of Guam Calvo Field House in Mangilao with the energetic Kevin Delgado, sometimes called the “Pied Piper of Mangilao,” at the helm. Preparations began close to a year ago.
One of the most important annual youth events on Guam, WYDGuam, was hosted by the Santa Teresita Parish of Mangilao and is a 25-year opportunity to showcase its diocesan talents and devotion. There are 26 parishes on Guam and each one is given the good fortune to sponsor WYDGuam. It is usually celebrated on Palm Sunday.
World Youth Day on Guam was originally organized many years ago to create the opportunity for young adults who were unable to attend the international event which was held in Panama City this year. The international get together attracts millions of youth from all over the world. In 1995, WYD was held in Manila, Philippines which established a record. It created a carpet of humanity five million strong in Luneta Park in the Philippines capital. It was the first time the event was held in an Asian country.
WYD had its inception in 1984 when 300,000 youth responded to a jubilee called by Pope John Paul II, now St. John Paul II when was canonized in 2014 after being exclusively connected to a miracle in which a French nun was supernaturally cured of Parkinson’s Disease.
For years, Guam has sent youthful pilgrims to the international event. So far, there have been 12 World Youth Day celebrations. They take place triennially.
A precursor to the local event was a solemn evening of adoration and prayer called the XLT (eXalt) which was held the previous Friday evening at the Santa Teresita Church. The evening featured Christian music minister Jesse Manibusan, keynote speaker, who was brought on island specifically for WYDGuam. Also present was Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes whose adoration before the Blessed Sacrament created an electrifying moment of silent veneration so intense it seemed to energize this concept and miracle we call our Catholic Faith.
Well, it’s over now. The tireless work of the army of youthful volunteers and adults and their leader, Kevin Delgado, deserve nothing short of a glorious “well done.” The haunting lyrics and melody of “Baba Yetu,” the Swahili version of the Lord’s Prayer, brought the evening to a close. The bells of heaven did ring in their favor. Santa Teresita parish now bows down gracefully and bequeaths the reigns of sponsorship to the next host of World Youth Day Guam. With papal-like simplicity the Archbishop of Guam gave the final blessing and made the announcement: “The host for next year’s World Youth Day Guam will be Santa Barbara Church in Dededo.”
Louie Gombar is a retired middle school teacher