By: Sr. Clare Hunter
World Youth Days can produce fruit that lasts. I can testify as a product of five of them!
The soil was prepared in 1991, in Czestowchowa, Poland, with Pope John Paul II. Standing in a crowd of millions, I realized three things: I am not the only teenager in the world who loves the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II; I’m sticking with this faith; and I have to be open to my vocation.
The seeds were planted in Denver in 1993. I would be entering the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist days after returning. As Providence would have it, I traveled with a group from Connecticut, which included then Auxiliary Bishop Paul Loverde, (my “boss-to-be” 13 years later). I took most seriously John Paul II’s exhortation: “Young pilgrims, Christ needs you to enlighten the world and to show it the “path to life” (Ps. 16:11).The challenge is to make the church’s yes to life concrete and effective. The struggle will be long, and it needs each one of you. Place your intelligence, your talents, your enthusiasm, your compassion and your fortitude at the service of life! Have no fear.”
As a “seedling” sister, I traveled as a chaperone for Rome, in 2000. I renewed my vows in Assisi on August 11, the feast of St. Clare, and received the graces of being a pilgrim in Rome during the Jubilee Year.
In full bloom, I attended the World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002 as a presenter on the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, just weeks before making my Perpetual Vows as a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist.
If that wasn’t enough, I then had the opportunity to bear fruit by leading a group to Cologne, Germany, in 2005, with our new pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. Thank you Lord for the gift of experiencing your words: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last” (John 15:16).