Teen choses the Papal Palace over a trip to Disney World.
Quinceañera is a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America. Unlike any other birthday, this birthday is celebrated differently since it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. In Paraguay, most of the families gift their daughters a special trip to a place of their choice as part of the Quinceañera.
Judith Jaquet and her friends at the Almenas de Asunción School had initially planned their Quinceañera at the Disney World located in Orlando, Florida. However, they changed their plans once they came to know about Pope Francis's invitation to all the boys and girls to take part in the Jubilee for Young Boys and Girls to be conducted at Vatican, Rome, in the month of April.
According to Ruth Cardozo, the Almenas de Asunción school teacher who first read about the Jubilee for Young Boys and Girls in an article, the school saw an opportunity to provide a different Quinceañera experience for their 15-year old students that would give them a new vision of themselves and their families. They realized that participating in an event with the Holy Father and interacting with young people from all around the world would be much more productive and formative than spending time at the Disney World.
The 35 students who were all set to travel to the Disney World, and their parents, without hesitation, accepted the school's proposal to travel to Rome to participate in the Jubilee for Young Boys and Girls event. Judith Jaquet, who was a volunteer during Pope Francis' trip to Paraguay last year, said she was thrilled about the idea of seeing the Holy Father again.
The Jubilee of Boys and Girls that was held last month in Rome from April 23 to 25 saw about 60,000 youth from different parts of the world participating actively in the event. The theme of the Jubilee was Merciful like the Father. The Jubilee of Boys and Girls is a part of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy year events planned by Vatican. The event started with the sacrament of reconciliation in St. Peter's Square. The Pontiff himself spontaneously joined the 150 priests hearing the confessions of young people.
The 35 Almenas de Asunción school students participated in pilgrimages, as well as in the Mass presided by Pope Francis. For Judith Jaquet, one of the most emotional moments during the trip included her walking through the Holy Door in Saint Peter's Basilica. For Sofia Mendoza, another Almenas de Asunción school student, one of the most powerful moments was when Pope Francis said “happiness is not an app that you can download on your cell phone.”