World Youth Day vigil was 'spectacular,' say pilgrims in Rio

L R Yoel Aparicio and Gershon Cruz spent the night on Copacabana Beach July 28 2013 Credit Estefania Aguirre CNA CNA 7 28 13 (L-R) Yoel Aparicio and Gershon Cruz spent the night on Copacabana Beach July 28, 2013. | Estefania Aguirre/CNA.

Young people participating in the World Youth Day prayer vigil in Rio de Janeiro before the final Mass with Pope Francis said the experience left a mark on them.

"The vigil was something spectacular," said Yoel Aparicio from Lima, Peru.

"Visiting Brazil isn't just visiting Brazil," he told CNA, "because the Pope asks you to go back to your parish to share everything you have learned."

Aparicio and his friend, Guerson Cruz, belong to the Neocatechumenal Way and arrived in Brazil a week ago, alongside hundreds of others from their movement.

"The experience that I have inside of me is going to motivate me more to be able to fight against everything the world offers me," Aparicio said on July 28.

"The spirit of the Pope is to move the youth and the churches to establish something more solid," he explained.

During the previous night's prayer vigil – one of the major events of World Youth Day – Pope Francis prayed with the crowds on Copacabana Beach and led them in Eucharistic Adoration.

The Pope told some three million pilgrims from around the world that Christ "still needs the young people" to be missionaries for his Church.

"I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians," he said, "not starchy and superficial, but real."

With sentences like "Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup," the Holy Father also brought tears to a few people's eyes.

"It filled me with joy, and I think being here is simply something extraordinary and incredible," remarked Cruz.

"Especially the Pope's message, which is something that seems so simple, and actually it is something magnificent, something big," he said.

The 19-year-old pilgrim underscored that his favorite part of what Pope Francis said is that "we should love each other and…accept God in our life so we can take action."

He also liked that the pontiff emphasized the importance of "not just living this greatness here but also taking it elsewhere and to other countries."

"It's something really important because there are many people who are poor," he explained, and it is necessary to realize that the ability to come to World Youth Day is "a blessing, it's a joy and it's something really exciting."

"I wish to change my life, and I know it's going to be hard for me because putting aside the 'I' is something really hard, but I know that I can do it with God," said the Peruvian.

Leaving the vigil, he stressed the joy that he felt and said that he knows God exists "and that he can change my life."

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