“A Festival Like No Other,” Said the African Delegates to the First International Catholic Youth Faith Influencers’ Festival 

In Portugal’s capital, on August 4th, 2023, the Catholic Faith Influencers participated in an extraordinary event. For the past two weeks, the entire country has been buzzing with excitement as young Catholics from all over the world make their way to the land of the three children of Fatima. However, on August 4th, Lisbon was particularly lively, with thousands of young Catholic Faith Influencers dancing to Gospel music. This event marked the first international Catholic Faith Influencers’ Festival celebration.
A group of young Catholic social media influencers, podcasters, and YouTubers are participating in the “The Church Listens to You” initiative as a part of the ongoing synod. The Vatican Dicastery for Communication, World Youth Day organizers, and Episcopal Commission for Communication recognized this significant gathering, which is a response to Pope Francis’ call to expand the Synod on Synodality to the digital realm.
When preparations for the festival began, it was expected to attract a small crowd. The initial estimate was around 500 attendees, but according to one of our reporters, the number surpassed 4,000. This unexpected turnout forced the organizers to adjust, including cancelling the distribution of kits and food packs they had initially planned.
The organizers were not careless; they were well-prepared and ensured participants had registered beforehand. However, the event on the eve of the festival turned out to be very enjoyable, and many young people became interested. Those who had registered invited their friends, who shared the event on social media. Before anyone knew it, the event had become very popular. Despite this unexpected turnout, the organizers rose to the occasion and created an exciting atmosphere that future leaders will remember of the faith community.
Pope Francis seemed to have anticipated the events that unfolded later that day. He distributed several olive trees he had received the night before to some organizers without prior notice and asked them to take care of them. The organizers took on the responsibility and diligently tended to the peace trees with some modifications until the holy father asked for them back.
Therefore, when additional thousands of young adults unexpectedly arrived, the organizers, gaining insights from the pope’s olive tree surprise, reorganized and provided the youth with a fitting festival. The participants’ joy was surreal, and the delegation of African digital youth Faith influencers (ADYFI) present at the event had much to say about the epochal gathering. 
The continental delegation was led by Sr Leonida Katunge, the charismatic Pactpan program coordinator and ADYFI-Vatican liaison from Kenya. They thoroughly enjoyed the festival, and during Mgr Lucio Andrian Ruiz’s leadership presentation, the youth expressed their admiration for their leaders’ skills. Sister Leonida was particularly emotional, sharing her experience of being among so many young Catholics from all over the world. As someone who played a crucial role in organizing the event, it’s understandable that she feels great joy in recounting her experience.
Dominic Acquah-Baidoo and Angela Azumah Alu proudly represented Ghana at the first-ever digital influencers’ festival. They had the opportunity to connect with like-minded youth worldwide who share their passion for spreading the faith through digital media. The talented performances of Catholic artists, including Fr. Rob Galea and Jonathan Roumie, left a lasting impression on them. The festival also included other digital faith influencers from African countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sao Tomé Principe, and South Africa. The African digital youth faith influencers left the festival with a shared desire for an African Continental Youth Day.

Scroll to Top