This past January the two Augustinian high schools of the Province, St. Augustine High School and Villanova Preparatory School, went on pilgrimage to the World Youth Day and Augustinian Youth Encounter in Panama. The two groups were chaperoned by friars and lay people. The friars included Br. Barnaby Johns, OSA, Fr. Kirk Davis, OSA, Fr. Mark Menegatti, OSA, Br. Mauricio Morales, OSA, and Fr. Maxime Villeneuve, OSA.
The Augustinian Youth Encounter (AYE) was held in the cities of David and Tole in Panama for one week in mid January. The AYE can be thought of as a "mini World Youth Day" and brings students and young people together from Augustinian schools and parishes around the world. This year, 300 young people gathered to celebrate their faith and share experiences from their Augustinian school or parish. The AYE included a walking pilgrimage to a local shrine, workshops and talks on various faith topics, a festival of nations, and a mission experience in Tole, Panama, a city in which the Augustinians are responsible for the pastoral care of the people.
From there, the groups traveled to Panama City for the World Youth Day, a world wide celebration of the Catholic faith. Our groups were hosted by Augustinian parishes in the city. While at the WYD, the groups particpated in Catechesis talks from bishops, a massive opening Mass on Costa Cintera beach with the Archbishop of Panama City, a welcoming ceremony and Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis, and the culminating Sunday Mass with Pope Francis attended by nearly 700,000 pilgrims.
The events were a massive success and allowed the young people from our schools the honor of celebrating the riches of their Catholic faith.