Gerard's Response to Scotland’s Rio

  •  Posted by Gerard Seenan, Age 15
  •  13 September 2013
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From the 25th-28th July 2013, I attended Scotland’s Rio at Stirling University. It was an event which has changed my life and strengthened my faith!

When a friend from my Parish invited me to attend Scotland’s Rio with him and another member of my Parish, I was a little apprehensive and I have to say, reluctant to attend. However, through the persistence of my friend and my mum, I agreed to go along. We attended the event, as members of the youth group within St Augustine’s in Coatbridge although we are Parishioners of St Vincent’s in East Kilbride.

The morning of the 25th July arrived and I travelled with my friends to the Diocesan Centre in Motherwell, where we transferred to the coach which would transport us to Stirling University. I was still feeling a little nervous as this was the first time I had stayed away from home on my own. At the same time, I was excited about some of the events which I knew were going to take place over the course of the four days.

We arrived at the Campus about 11 o’clock and quickly set about registering and settling into our accommodation before lunch. Lunchtime enabled my friends and I to meet some of the group from St Augustine’s. After lunch, the programme got underway with the Opening Mass in the marquee. I was amazed at the number of people around my own age who were there from across Scotland. The Mass was very spiritual and was enjoyable, as the music was lively and appropriate for a person in their teens. I was starting to feel less anxious!

After dinner, there was an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I took up this opportunity and went to confession with Archbishop Tartaglia. Then it was time for the Ceilidh...dancing is not my thing but I enjoyed the company of my new found friends. Night Prayer in the Marquee was peaceful. We all went to bed happy but exhausted!

Each day began with Praise and Worship, followed by Morning Prayer and Mass. On the Friday and Saturday, we had the opportunity to attend our own personal choice of workshops. I attended a workshop presented by the Conforti Institute on Discipleship and another workshop promoting Pro-Life. Both were very interesting and gave me the courage to take forward what I learned into the outside world, knowing that I am not alone in what I believe in and especially what I feel about my faith as a young Catholic.

The Brazilian Festival on the Friday was lots of fun. It was very colourful as many of us dressed up in the colours of the Brazilian flag. Some had feathers in their hair and others had fruit on their head! The festival provided further opportunity to mix with new friends.

For me, the highlight was the Prayer Vigil on the Saturday night. Despite the rain, we participated joyfully in the Blessed Sacrament Procession and then had time to sit in silent adoration in the company of Jesus… a very moving experience!

The four days passed very quickly and despite my initial apprehension, I found myself having reached the final day without having thought about home once! That had to be a good sign. After Praise and Worship and Morning Prayer, we left the campus to make our Pilgrim Walk to St Mary’s in Stirling. A very powerful act of faith, by young people in Scotland. After Mass, we headed back to the Campus for a barbecue before making our way back home.

I was excited to be going home but disappointed also that our time together was coming to an end.

At Bellahouston Park three years ago, Pope Benedict challenged the young people of Scotland to become Saints of the 21st Century”  and told us that we are all “Called to Holiness”.  My time at Scotland’s Rio has empowered me to try even harder to be a disciple of Jesus by my words and actions. I am grateful to all who organised such a wonderful event and I look forward to attending World Youth Day 2016, in Poland!

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