Pope Francis greeted the over one million World Youth Day attendees with these words earlier this summer. Among them were four of our boys and girls, who had traveled all the way to Kraków, Poland, to hear him speak.
Our young people are proof of this sentiment—evident at our annual Thanksgiving celebration, where they shared gratitude, kindness and, of course, good food with their Mercy Home family.
Standing before kids and co-workers in the Hay Campus soccer building, two of our World Youth Day pilgrims, Mahoney Home’s Jonathan and Couderc Home’s Kelli, shared the lessons of mercy they had learned during their time in Poland. They spoke about the importance of “bridge builders”—individuals with whom you are able to build a positive and reliable connection.
Many of our boys and girls never had such a person to trust and confide in before coming to our door. But youth speakers Kelli and Jonathan, along with several of their peers, were easily able to identify a bridge they had built with at least one co-worker since arriving at the Home. The young men and women took turns asking their bridge builders to stand as they thanked them for the healing, care and growth each has provided them.
“I want each youth to build a bridge with staff,” said Juan of Cooke Home after thanking his bridge builders. He emphasized to his peers the importance of making a plan for growth during their time at Mercy Home—and to him, learning to develop healthy, positive relationships are essential to everyone’s goals. “We all have a plan. That’s why we’re here, right?” he said.
Coupled with this message of bridge building was one of hope for the future. The Harmony, Hope, and Healing choir led the group in singing a popular South African hymn, “Bambelela”. Bambelela is a Zulu word meaning “never give up”.
In his spiritual reflection, Marc Velasquez shared a story from his time working in a Belizean prison to illustrate the importance of not only forging, but also maintaining, lasting bonds of trust and friendship. In this way, he said, we are able to stand up for one another in the face of adversity.
The evening provided many more special moments, from our children serving delicious pie, to the entire room singing happy birthday to Sheil Home young man Sal.
Thank you to our friends and co-workers who made this year’s celebration a success!
See more photos from the Thanksgiving celebration here.