From Aug. 1-6, approximately 1.5 million Catholics gathered in Lisbon, Portugal for World Youth Day 2023.
EWTN attended the event, interviewing countless people, including young people, religious, and priests about their journey of faith.
Father Mendo Ataíde, a 33-year-old priest from the Diocese of Lisbon, was ordained in June 2020. He explained how he discovered his vocation while living with a large Protestant family in Rhinelander, Wis., at the age of 18.
When asked how he found his vocation, he said it was a "life-long process." He went to Mass on Sundays, but did not fully understand his Catholic faith.
Father Ataíde said he "first had a very big, strong experience" after seeing the example of his Protestant host family in America.
"That made me question because I used to say that I was Catholic, but I knew nothing about Catholic life. I didn't know my faith. I would go to Mass yes, on Sundays, but that was about it. And through that, [it was a] whole discovery process."
Father Ataíde then explained the questions he began asking himself: What are the fundamentals of the Church? What am I as a Catholic? How can I please God?
"They actually lived out their faith, as they really thought it was a sincere and real search," Father Ataíde explained of his American host family.
"They were not crystallizing anything. They really wanted to follow God. That made me again discover my faith because I was Catholic, and I didn't know what it was to be Catholic.
"And so, seeing people struggling to follow God, and seeing the happiness, the joy that I saw in that family...This is what really makes the heart happy."
The Portuguese priest said he then "started praying," and "throughout that process, while I was in the university, the calling got louder and louder throughout my life."
"When I came back, even though I was not with a clear mind, I knew that a life with Jesus was the best life there is, and I thought, 'I want to give my life for this.'
"I found out the fundamentals of the Catholic Church and how Christ wants us to be one. I got to know the faith in a way I didn't know before if I didn't have this grace that God gave me."