SALT LAKE CITY — As a response to the call of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan “Charting Our Mission,” on May 31 more than 100 youth gathered at the Utah Capitol for a Faith Walk.
Youth, young adults and adults from the prayer groups of the Catholic Renewal as well as parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Marguerite responded to the call.
Fr. Jose Fidel Barrera Cruz, administrator of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, and Fr. Jose A. Barrera Hernandez, pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish, led the procession, which started at the Capitol and ended at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.
“As Catholics and as believers we have to get together and share our faith,” said Yolanda Perez, an Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioner who participated in the walk with two of her daughters and a niece.
“It is important that our youth see that our faith is important to all, and that they are important to us and to God,” she said.
The idea of having a walk was based on the five priorities of the Pastoral Plan, which are faith formation, vocations, stewardship, Eucharist and Catholic identity, and the dignity of the human person.
“We needed to do something out of the box, and this walk was something ideal,” said Fr. Barrera Cruz. “We wanted our youth to know and always remember that there is a God and that he is always walking with us.”
Motivating the youth to always be active and participate in different activities is important because the youth are a big part of the Catholic Church, Fr. Barrera Hernandez added.
Sometimes there will be a youth retreat, but then there is no follow up, he said. “We need to never leave them alone. … This [walk] is an activity and a way to tell them that we are here for them and with them, that they are very important and we care.”
Recalling the words of Pope Francis, “Not tomorrow but now,” Fr. Barrera Hernandez added, “We are on a journey. … Keep walking, keep living the faith and sharing it. And do not forget, you are not the tomorrow, you are not the ‘meantime,’ you are the now of God,” as Pope Francis said at World Youth Day 2019.
Fr. Barrera Cruz told the participants at the walk that “Jesus never gets tired of walking side by side with you.”
Among the walkers was Eline Maldonado, 13, who said she wanted to participate and that she was happy to be there. She and her mother, Viridiana Maldonado, are Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners.
“If we don’t push our youth to get out and step up, they will be just passive; they won’t grow in the faith,” said Viridiana Maldonado.
Upon arriving at the parish, the priests offered a special blessing to the participants. At the small gathering that followed, there was an open forum for participants to share their experiences.