Presented in cooperation with Greg Schlueter and JP2Journey.com: The JP2 Generation Tells Its Story, remembering World Youth Day 2002 and the impact of Pope John II.
Part Four, Statia (Sullivan) Brown
Every morning the WYD participants attended Catechetical sessions with hundreds of others to learn more about our Catholic faith. We heard from different cardinals, each teaching us a lesson that dealt with the themes of World Youth Day. On day four the session focused on the Holy Spirit. The Cardinal encouraged us to “stir up” the Holy Spirit living inside us. He spoke of the Holy Spirit’s desire to work in us and through us. We were also able to participate in Mass every day. It was great to receive the Eucharist with our brothers and sisters from around the world, truly coming together as the Body of Christ. Throughout the days there were different speakers, exhibits, and concerts that we could attend. We had many opportunities to pray, whether in Adoration, praying the rosary with friends, old and new, or taking time for personal reflection.
During the day I met Brother Michael Mary from the Dominicans. I was struck by his youth, his intense love for the Lord, the Church and the priesthood. Brother Michael Mary was studying for the priesthood and would be ordained in two years. We had an amazing conversation about why he took the name of Mary. He was so in love with the Blessed Mother that he wanted her to be his guide, protector and intercessor in his priesthood. It was a great witness to me of how the Lord uses His Mother to call His people to Himself and to call men to the priesthood. The Blessed Mother has been and continues to be an integral part of my faith journey and it is amazing to see Her at work.
My own vocation was strengthened and confirmed during the pilgrimage. The Lord placed a desire in my heart to serve His youth and this desire only grew while in Toronto. When I went back to college — to the fall semester of my senior year — I changed my major from Secondary Education, History to Human Development and Family Studies, so I could better serve the youth of the Church. The Lord has led me to work for his Church as a youth minister and college campus minister.
The Lord was also planting seeds for my vocation of wife and mother. I attended World Youth Day with my future husband. At the time, though, we were just friends, not even thinking of dating let alone marrying each other. Five years after World Youth Day we were married. Now as husband and wife we share our experiences of the pilgrimage, we remember the married couples and parents and children who made the pilgrimage together and use their example and witness to help us deepen our faith and live our lives as Catholics as a family.
Pope John Paul II, before and after World Youth Day, had a great impact on my life. His prayers and encyclicals continue to call me to a deeper spirituality, to a better understanding of my vocation as wife and mother, and to a greater love of the Church. Over the past three years I have been studying some of Pope John Paul’s writings on family life and womanhood. He has touched my heart and has challenged me to be a better woman, wife, and mother.
Statia (Sullivan) Brown is a wife and mother of two. She is an active leader in various ministry endeavors.