Song, dance, testimonies. A showcase of talent and faith took to the stage at World Youth Day in Lisbon on Friday night, 4 August, for the first ever festival of Catholic digital influencers. In the Parque de los Cristonautas, in the presence of Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, young Catholic digital influencers gathered to reflect on the future of Catholic communications, namely, the need to “keep up with the times” and take advantage of digital media to spread the joy of the Gospel.
The meeting was the second of its kind during World Youth Day 2023, after the one on Thursday morning when the influencers met to attend Mass at the Catholic University of Portugal.
The hymn, ‘Vamos por todo el mundo’ (Let’s go out to the whole world), with which the meeting on Friday evening in Lisbon’s Parque de los Cristonautas was inaugurated, infused the atmosphere with the same joy experienced since World Youth Day kicked off.
Msgr Lucio Adrian Ruiz, Secretary of the Dicastery for Communication, welcomed all those present, inviting them to go forth with courage and creativity. “Be united amongst yourselves, just like the apostles who went forth in pairs”, he said, before issuing the request to always be close to our bishops, to be united “so that we can be one Church, because that is what Jesus wants”. And consistently with this, Msgr Ruiz noted that the Holy Father himself had dedicated a gift to them with the same desire in mind. It was a small olive tree, blessed by the Holy Father just the day before.
Three young influencers then shared their testimony. The first, Jonathan Roumie, who played Jesus Christ in the series “The Chosen”, spoke of his faith and of how it helped him to portray the character in the series. Then Pitter di Laura talked about ways to be an influencer for God, reminding the young people that the influence must not only be for oneself, but for everyone. Following was Fr Rob Galea from Australia, who spoke about responding to the call to evangelisation. A musician, Fr Rob also graced the participants with one of his songs, loosely based on the music of “Amazing Grace”.
The final speaker was Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who led the group of influencers and participants in prayer. “What a joy that we can finally be gathered together on this territory that is digital media, in order to persevere in our mission”, he said.
Msgr Ruiz asked Cardinal Maradiaga to impart his blessing on digital media and its evangelisers. Then he told those present to turn on their cellphone lights to represent the light of digital media, and, lit by the sea of flickering lights in the dark, in silence, the influencers received the blessing.
Two concerts closed the festival, the music of Hakuna, and that of the Missionarios Shalom, after which the young people left the Parque de los Cristonautas singing and dancing, as they did every night in Lisbon, filled with the joy of meeting and celebrating together at World Youth Day!