By Tatenda Nyamundanda
They call Algarve Europe’s most famous secret and we were blessed to have been able to experience one of its beautiful towns, Tavira. The town looks like something out of a fairy-tale. It has winding cobbled streets, a lot of churches, interesting monuments, and a river running through it. Tavira is an old town with a lot of history.
From the 26th to the 31st of July, the town was filled with hundreds of pilgrims from around the world. The hospitality is the first thing that stood out for us. The Parish Priest, Mayor, and local community welcomed us and joined us in some of our prayers. The volunteers, police, and local council worked together so well to make our stay as seamless and as comfortable as possible. Everything was so well organized, it allowed us to conduct our spiritual activities without any stress.
During our stay, we had Mass every day together with the South Koreans. The experience proved that the church truly is one and universal. Even though we could not understand each other’s’ languages, the Masses were filled with love and a lot of people from both countries testified to have felt drawn closer to God. We had the final Mass at the Algarve stadium together with the pilgrims who were staying in other towns. Seeing multitudes of youths lift their hearts to the Lord was another moving experience.
We had activities like volunteering and culture night which enabled us to work together with people from other countries. Socializing, sharing our different cultures, and learning about our differences and similarities made us appreciate each other more. Notable groups were the Mexicans who were the largest group and were always willing to share their diverse culture, and the Filipinos who were from different dioceses, had only met four times during their preparations but moved together as a unit you would think they were related by blood from the way they associated with each other.
In Tavira, we saw that the church is youthful because there were hundreds of us professing our faith. However, learning about the city made us realize that we need to do more. We learnt about a church that was renovated five years ago but is still not in use because they don’t have a parish priest. We learnt about another church that is now only used for funerals. These stories emphasized to us that it is really not enough for us to simply believe, but we need to share our faith and practice it, otherwise, it will soon die.