YAI 2011

“Right across over there”, our friendly Gibraltarian driver pointed to a building about a hundred metres away, “that’s the country of Gibraltar”. We were driving in from Malaga, the seaside city at the tip of Spain. Many of us had not even heard of the country earlier. Some of us thought Gibraltar was a rock. Yet something told us that the experience would be unique, and indeed it was.

The little country was literally packed with young people from around the world. The sun soaked island seemed to have become even more youthful with the arrival of young people from so many colourful nationalities. Every road in this quaint, beautiful land between Europe and Africa seemed to lead to the Stadium where the International Youth Festival organised by Youth Arise International (YAI) - a unique global platform for different catholic movements from around the world - was being held. This year the YAI Festival featured youth groups from as far as China. Each nationality was welcomed with a resounding cheer and flags were flying in the air.

Then the bands came on - Rexband and SALT led the fray, followed by several local bands, dance and mime groups, singers and what not - the celebrations had begun. Yet beyond the celebrations, there was much that was happening. The sessions of the renowned Fr. Robert Spitzer who is known for his discourses on science, religion and faith took the young people on a journey through time, space and nothingness into the light of faith. Dr. Andrew Consiglio, Henry Cappello, Salvatore Martinez among others too helped the young participants delve a little deeper into this discovery of faith. All through the festival, the participants experienced deep praise and worship sessions, relevant teachings, rocking concerts, breathtaking choreography and mimes, colourful cultural programmes and above all, deep Adoration and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Every evening, the music festivals lit up the place with a burst of music and dance. YAI also offered participants the opportunity to go on sightseeing tours, dolphin spotting trips and shopping among others. Most of all, it was a time to meet, reach out across borders, find new inspiration, start new journeys and ultimately prepare for the World Youth Day experience. Thus in the unforgettable ambience of Gibraltar, a new breed of young people began a journey to discover their personal mission in the context of the Catholic Church.