Local teens, teacher travel to World Youth Day in Panama

Local teens in Panama for World Youth Day made fast friends with a group from Atlanta. “We went on a rooftop terrace and nine of us conversed about life stories and faith for about two and a half hours,” said Brandon Ducusin, a student at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien. Photo: Courtesy Brandon Ducusin Local teens in Panama for World Youth Day made fast friends with a group from Atlanta. “We went on a rooftop terrace and nine of us conversed about life stories and faith for about two and a half hours,” said Brandon Ducusin, a student at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien. Photo: Courtesy Brandon Ducusin

For the past year, four teenage friends from three local parishes have been raising money to make a dream come true — traveling to Panama for World Youth Day 2019.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the large scale of people from all over the world coming together in faith,” said Brandon Ducusin, a student at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien and a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way.

Brandon left January 18 with his friends Isaiah Morales, also from Kennedy Catholic and St. Vincent Parish; Jessa DelosReyes, a member of St. Theresa Parish in Federal Way who attends Tacoma’s Stadium High School; and Sarah Renshaw, a member of St. Anthony Parish in Renton who attends Kentridge High School in Kent.

Arriving in Panama City January 19, after nearly a day of travel and a layover, the four friends had a day to tour Panama on their own. “It is a beautiful city and an incredible place for people from all of the world to come together in Christ,” Ducusin wrote in an email.

This year’s World Youth Day theme is taken from the Gospel of Luke: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Pope Francis, who arrives January 23, will walk the Stations of the Cross with the youth pilgrims on Friday, January 25; celebrate a candlelight prayer vigil on Saturday, January 26; and celebrate Mass on World Youth Day, Sunday, January 27, before the event concludes.

To make the trip, the students raised money in a variety of ways — Brandon said he worked at a fast-foot restaurant, Isaiah did yard work and Jessa taught music lessons.

“Our parents supported us a lot,” Brandon said, adding that his parents covered the cost of his airfare, which he plans to pay back.

Also attending World Youth Day as a journalist with a tour group is Kennedy Catholic theology teacher Dario Mobini, who expressed appreciation for the school giving him time off to make the trip.

Mobini and the local teens will be reporting all week about their experiences at World Youth Day with words, photos and videos.

For youth and young adults who couldn’t make the trip to World Youth Day, the Archdiocese of Seattle is hosting “World Youth Day in Seattle” January 26-27. The event features addresses from Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg, a vocations café, multicultural music, breakout sessions on topics from “A Relationship with Jesus” to “Creating the New Face of the Church,” and fellowship and prayer with other Catholic youth.

Ways to follow World Youth Day

On the official World Youth Day USA Facebook page.

On the Vatican News YouTube channel.

Watch a January 23 livestream of the Fiat Festival, beginning at 11 a.m. PST. Learn more at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops World Youth Day site.

Jean Parietti

Jean Parietti is the local news editor for NWCatholic.org and features editor for Northwest Catholic magazine. You can reach her at jean.parietti@seattlearch.org.