Days 1-7 by Nicole Hahn
Days 7-10 by Joshua Schipper
Days 1 and 2
On Friday, July 28, the nearly 300 pilgrims, priests, seminarians, sisters, deacons, chaperones, and staff gathered at four separate locations for morning Mass (St. Vincent de Paul Church in Fort Wayne, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fort Wayne, St. Adalbert Church in South Bend, and St. Vincent de Paul Church in Elkhart) before heading off on the buses to Chicago to get on one of three different flights to get to their final destination of Porto, Portugal.
Arriving in Porto in the afternoon on Saturday, July 29, the group went to a private opening Mass at Irmandade de Santo António dos Congregados. Father Ben Landrigan, Parochial Vicar at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Elkhart and the official Chaplain for World Youth Day for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, led the Mass with priests and deacons from the diocese also taking part. Following Mass, the group either got on buses or walked miles through Porto to get to one of four hotels for check-in and a welcome dinner.
The small group of diocesan pilgrims who did not travel with the group arrived in Lisbon, Portugal at different times throughout the day and had their welcome Mass at Oliveira Church before their welcome dinner at a hotel in Lisbon.
On Sunday, July 30, it was an early start for the pilgrims as they left Porto and headed to Fátima, Portugal, for Mass with Bishop Rhoades in the local religious community. Following Mass, Sister Ângela de Fátima Coelho, the Postulator for the causes for canonization for sister and brother, St. Jacinta and St. Francisco Marto, and the Vice Postulator for the cause for canonization for their cousin, Sister Lùcia de Jesus dos Santos, gave a talk about their lives and her work. As children, the three received apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fátima, Portugal, in 1917.
The afternoon allowed for free time for everyone to explore the Shrine of Fátima, including the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and Basilica of the Holy Trinity. Of the many beautiful and spiritual things to do was the opportunity for pilgrims to crawl on their knees as an act of penance 600 feet in the scorching heat around the Chapel of Apparitions. Many young people did the full crawl. Though their knees were burned and bloody, most of the participants said they were so focused on prayer that they didn’t even feel pain until after they were finished and being cleaned and bandaged. Another highlight for many was to light candles at the Shrine of Fátima as a way to express devotion, seek intercession, and offer prayers to God. Pilgrims lit the candles as a tangible way to offer up their own personal intentions to God.
In the late afternoon, pilgrims loaded the buses and headed to one of three hotels in Lisbon to check in and then gather in small groups to talk about their experiences, pray together, and prepare for the next day.
Monday, July 31, was another early morning departure with a packed schedule for the day, including visits to Santarém, Batalha, and Alcobaça. Pilgrims visited churches and monasteries throughout the day. They had Mass with Bishop Rhoades at the site of Santarém’s Eucharistic Miracle, the Church of St. Stephen, also known as Igreja do Santissimo Milagre, or the Church of the Holy Miracle, Other locations visited were Igreja da Graça, Igreja de Santa Maria de Marvila, Praça Sa da Bandeira, Se Catredal, Mosteiro da Batalha, and Mosteiro da Alcobaça.
Everyone on the World Youth Day pilgrimage then got on buses to check in as a full group in one hotel, Hotel Roma in Lisbon. As was the case most nights, people gathered in their small groups to talk about their experiences, pray together, and prepare for the next day.
Tuesday, August 1, was the one big opportunity to explore Lisbon in their small groups. People chose to do things like go to the World Youth Day Cidade da Alegria (City of Joy), the Youth Festival, go sightseeing, visit historic churches like Santa Maria Maior (Cathedral or St. Mary Major), Igreja de Santo Antonio de Lisboa (Church of St. Anthony of Lisbon), and more holy places, spend some time on one of the beautiful beaches, visit historic landmarks, explore the streets of Lisbon, and even do some shopping. It was also a time to get some rest before a very big evening.
The group gathered as one to walk together while displaying the diocesan flags to Colina do Encontro (Parque Eduardo VII) or Edward VII Park for the World Youth Day Opening Mass, which was hosted by the Patriarch of Lisbon, Archbishop Dom Manuel Clemente. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all across the world were unified in faith, in Mass, and in the Eucharist in the beautiful park set up just for World Youth Day.
It was early to rise and another packed schedule on Wednesday, August 2. The morning began with the first of three daily sessions of “Rise Up” catechesis at the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação (Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation).
While catechesis was taking place inside the church, Bishop Rhoades and several of the youth and young adults from the diocese were outside doing interviews with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and OSV News.
Bishop Rhoades then sat in on some of the catechesis before concelebrating Mass at the church.
Pilgrims again gathered together early in the evening to head out together for the World Youth Day USA event at a park called the Parque da Quinta das Conchas e dos Lilases at Alameda das Linhas de Torres in Lisbon. The event featured a talk by Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester and Founder of the Catholic ministerial organization Word on Fire. That was followed by a Holy Hour led by Bishop Barron, which ended with him processing with the monstrance through the silent prayer of the crowd.
In the morning, the pilgrims again boarded the metro to arrive at Immaculate Conception Church for catechesis. There, they listened to a Gospel passage while youth and young adults on the “animation team” acted out the reading. After a witness talk from Deacon Caleb Kruse, Bishop Robert Barron addressed the young people gathered in and around the pews. After this, numerous youth – including three from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend – had a panel discussion with the bishop about social friendship, including the role of social media in the lives of young people. After the discussion, Bishop Barron celebrated Mass for the pilgrims.
In the early afternoon, the pilgrims departed to welcome Pope Francis. The streets of Lisbon were packed with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims bearing the flags of various nations and dioceses. Numerous youth and young adults from the diocese stood within yards of the pontiff as he cruised through the crowd before his opening address, which was broadcast in various languages via handheld radio.
On the final day of morning catechesis, diocesan pilgrim Anna Laisure gave a witness talk before Most Reverend Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of Military Services and President of the USCCB, spoke to the pilgrims and celebrated Mass. After a bit of time for food, the pilgrims returned to Edward VII Park for Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis.
Most of the pilgrims gathered on a shady hill, where they prayed the Stations of the Cross via jumbotron with those gathered, intermittently hearing testimonies about the faith from several Catholics. One of those who shared his testimony was Caleb Perkins, a pilgrim from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Perkins shared to hundreds of thousands of his fellow pilgrims about his childhood and young adulthood, his struggles, and all of the factors that converged to bring him into the Church. After stations of the Cross, Perkins and his wife, Natali, met Pope Francis, shaking the hand of the pontiff.
Prior to their journey to the papal vigil site, the pilgrims walked to a nearby church for Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. During his homily, he also commended Caleb Perkins for sharing his journey to the Catholic faith to the hundreds of thousands gathered for stations of the cross the evening prior.
Following Mass, the pilgrims hydrated and geared up for an hours-long journey to the vigil site. Carrying heavy bags, the pilgrims departed Hotel Roma with temperatures reaching 96.8 degrees in the mid-afternoon. After stopping beneath overpasses for some shade and to rehydrate, the view of an estimated 1.5 million young Catholics awaiting Pope Francis slowly came into view as they passed over bridges to their campsite.
The terrain of the section where they settled consisted of a dusty ground with rocks nearing the size of baseballs. The pilgrims set up camp as the sun beat down on them, with many inflating pool rafts as makeshift beds. As the sun set, Pope Francis addressed the pilgrims. Following his speech, the thousands worshiped the exposed Blessed Sacrament during adoration before attempting to get some sleep before their upcoming journey back to the United States.
On Sunday, pilgrims awoke to the sun rising over the Tagus Estuary in a field surrounded by around 1.5 million young Catholics from around the world. While they had originally planned to stay at their campsite for Mass with Pope Francis, the estimated temperature pushing 100 degrees saw the pilgrims journey back to their hotel. After a small park was secured for Mass as a group, the nearly 300 pilgrims celebrated Mass under the shade of a few trees.
After grabbing lunch at the hotel, the pilgrims split into several travel groups. Each group shared a parting dinner before boarding buses to their respective airports. During dinner at Hotel Roma, Father Paolo Degasperi made holy water to bless various religious items purchased by the pilgrims during their trip. After blessing and mixing salt and water, he sprinkled the water over numerous rosaries and statues, and then over the people gathered around his table.
Pilgrims in Travel Group No. 2 traveled nine hours via bus to the Madrid Airport to catch a flight to Munich, Germany. Shortly after arriving, Father Dennis DiBenedetto, Father Paolo Degasperi, and Father Jacob Schneider secured a small hotel chapel to celebrate Mass for the over 30 pilgrims traveling with them.
Reflecting on World Youth Day, Alfonso Ruiz-Cataño, a senior at North Manchester and a parishioner at St. Robert Bellermine Parish in North Manchester, said that the pilgrimage was “eye-opening,” and that it provided a lot of perspective about his own personal experiences. Despite his own struggles, he says that this helped him see his situation in a new light.“
It really made me appreciate and value what I have at home.”
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