Radio Show

What’s It Like to Perform at World Youth Day? Joe Melendrez Shares His Experience

Days after performing multiple shows at World Youth Day in Portugal, friend of the show and Catholic speaker and musician Joe Melendrez shares his experience from this inspirational event.

“For those that don’t know about World Youth Day, basically there were [roughly] 2,500 different events that happened over the course of about six days. [There were] speaking engagements, musical concerts, movies that were played, dances, and all kinds of different things,” Joe explains. “This is the young church gathering together. This is who wants to make disciples of all nations, and they’re hungry to serve.”

RELATED: Taking Your Faith on Vacation: How to Plan the Ultimate Spiritual Road Trip

He describes his first concert of the week on the main stage. Joe says, “The crowd that gathered at Parque Eduardo for Mass was like 750,000 people that day. I was warming the people up as they’re walking in getting ready for Mass, which is pretty wild.”

Joe usually travels the country performing with two DJs, but both were unable to make it to World Youth Day. He recalls that he was still in need of a DJ three weeks before traveling to Portugal, during which time he was playing a festival called Lifest in Wisconsin. Joe says, “There’s this Christian rapper named Flame; we were sitting in the artists’ area having dinner with his DJ, [named] DJ Code.” Joe and DJ Code were discussing their schedules and World Youth Day came up. Joe continues, “[DJ Code] says, ‘You need a DJ?’ And I’m like, yes…We talked for an hour and a half and talked through the show, and he was in. He was like an answered prayer, and now our first show together was on the mainstage at World Youth Day in front of thousands of people.”

RELATED: Eccentric Evangelism: How I Use My Quirks to Spread the Gospel

Father Dave reflects, “We’re obviously focusing on the youth and their experience, but for you in terms of your vocation and answering this call from God to serve in this way, I would imagine World Youth is kind of a shot in the arm for you.”

Joe responds, “It’s exciting. It’s a sacrifice for so many people. Leaving my family for eight days is a sacrifice…but if you get a mission from God, you [have] to say yes. The theme of World Youth Day was to rise up in haste, like Mary did to go visit Elizabeth. And so we need to rise up in haste, and to go forward and proclaim that Jesus is Lord and tell the world about it…A month before World Youth Day I got an email saying that I was going to be performing. I knew I had to go.”

“When you have so many people gathering together and they’re aligned in prayer and in excitement, it’s just electric. You walk the streets, and there’s people everywhere,” Joe says. “On the day of the vigil, at the end of World Youth Day, a million-plus people walk to this vigil site. They’re going to spend the night, they’re going to have Adoration with the Pope in the evening, and then Mass with the Pope in the morning. But I was actually in the city on the day that they walked and it just felt empty. It just goes to show you that when people gather together, there’s something different, there’s something that shifts.”