By Elizabeth Lowe
Myoshi Smith has traveled extensively across Europe but none of her previous trips compare to a recent pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“The other trips were for fun,” said Smith, 24, a parishioner of Immaculate Conception in Baltimore who works as a bridal consultant in Baltimore. “This was totally focused on ‘how am I going to grow spiritually from this trip and what is going to change inside of me.’ Feeling the energy of 3.5 million people scream as the pope passes by – there are no words. There’s nothing to compare it with.”
Smith was one of 18 young adults ages 18-31 who are affiliated with the Vincentians and traveled to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, which was July 23-28.
“This trip is one of the many stepping stones to me growing closer in my faith,” said Smith, who enthusiastically described her experiences in Rio de Janeiro. “I’ve never felt so spiritually awakened, I’ve never felt so spiritually aware and I’ve never felt this close to God.”
During World Youth Day Smith attended Masses, eucharistic adoration, Stations of the Cross and a peace protest. She listened to speakers, including Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, who spoke about vocations and evangelizing, among other topics.
She also went to confession, which she called the best part of the pilgrimage – spiritually.
“There were priests as far as the eye can see,” Smith said.
At one point Smith stood a few feet from the most famous priest on the planet, which is, of course, Pope Francis.
“It’s pretty intense,” Smith said. “You’re just like ‘is this actually happening right now?’ ”
Smith described the Brazilian people as hospitable.
“The people were so sweet and helpful,” she said. “It was amazing – the hospitality of everyone from the taxi cab drivers to restaurants. I can’t say enough about the heart and soul of the Brazilian people I saw there.”
Smith returned home with a fresh perspective on her faith.
“I’m coming back with this whole new outlook on what my mission is and what my purpose is and questions about how I have been living my life and what I should be doing going forward,” she said.