A spirited 1.5 million pilgrims woke up at dawn on a dew covered Field of Mercy to the sound of music and singing as they awaited Pope Francis.
Carolina Gonzalez, a second-time WYD pilgrim traveling with a group of young adults from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, was among the pilgrims singing and dancing. She remembered her first encounter with Pope Francis earlier this week at the welcome prayer service.
“There is a sort of ease and peace that comes from hearing Pope Francis’ voice. I know that his words are what God wants us to hear,” said Gonzalez. “There are at least a million young people here, but when the Pope speaks there is silence. The silence means opening up yourself to prayer and what God’s message is for you.”
Pope Francis celebrated Mass later that morning and delivered a homily to the pilgrims focused on mercy and used technology references to relate to the youth, saying: “Trust the memory of God: his memory is not a “hard disk” that “saves” and “archives” all our data, his memory is a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in “erasing” in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days.”
The youth roared and cheered as Pope Francis announced that WYD 2019 would be held in Panama.
"I saw the Holy Spirit move in all 16 young people that I led on this pilgrimage to WYD. We've had so many profound and memorable moments," Michael Ramirez, Young Adult Ministry Coordinator at St. Denis Parish in Diamond Bar. "WYD has been invaluable and I hope to bring many more pilgrims to Panama."
Pope Francis closed WYD by inviting all pilgrims on the Field of Mercy to pray the Angelus.