Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer
June 20, 2023 // Bishop

World Youth Day Pilgrims Gather for Final Meeting

Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer

Pilgrims leaving for World Youth Day taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, gathered for a final meeting at Sacred Heart Parish in Warsaw on Wednesday, June 7, before their departure at the end of next month. Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass, and representatives from travel agency Verso Ministries provided pilgrims with practical information to prepare for their journey.

During his homily at Mass, Bishop Rhoades unpacked the old testament story of Tobit by first defining the term “deuterocanonical,” which refers to a particular set of books in the Bible. He said that, while protestants later removed these books, the early Christians would have used a collection of scripture that included the deuterocanonical books called the Septuagint.

“Tobit was such a good man. He was a very, very faithful Jew. He observed God’s law, and a lot of the people had abandoned God’s law. And when they were deported to Nineveh, a lot of them started worshiping false Gods — but not Tobit. He was very faithful, very pious, and he was always practicing the works of mercy: helping the poor and really living his faith.”

One of the corporal works of mercy, Bishop Rhoades said, is burying the dead.

“And so, sometimes, some of his fellow Israelites were being killed, and one, in particular, was strangled to death, and he went out to bury him. Ok, so what’s the big deal? Well, he was putting his life in danger because the rulers didn’t like that he was helping his own people.”

Bishop Rhoades continued to explain the troubles in which Tobit found himself, as well as another figure in this deuterocanonical book, Sarah. When they began to lose hope, both Tobit and Sarah turned to God in their hopelessness.

“God heard their prayers. And he sent the Archangel Raphael. This reading says that the prayers of Tobit and Sarah, far apart, were heard in the glorious justice of almighty God. And Raphael was sent to heal them both.”

He said that, while a fictional story, this Old Testament story is used to convey the message of God’s providence, and that sometimes God allows bad things to happen.

“They turn to God in prayer… God allows suffering to happen in our lives sometimes, and we can’t figure out, ‘Why, Lord?’ But so many people can testify that in the end it can be a blessing for us … So the message is to trust in God’s providence and to be patient, to pray, and never lose hope. Never lose hope.”

Photos by Joshua Schipper
Pilgrims meet with chaperones, priests, and travel guides on Wednesday, June 7, for the final time before leaving at the end of July for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Following Mass, the World Youth Day pilgrims gathered for a Portuguese dinner, and to hear tips from their travel agents. Representatives from the agency started by unpacking the trip day-by-day, noting a visit to the Fatima apparition site, papal welcome, and a night where pilgrims will sleep in a field under the stars.

Bishop Rhoades added a few words following the presentation.

“This is the largest group of priests we will have ever had on World Youth Day for our diocese. Usually we have maybe five or six priests, and I really wanted priests to come so that you can get to know some of the priests on a more personal level.”

Touching on the universality of the Catholic faith, he encouraged pilgrims to “get to know one another, even people from other parishes, other schools that you don’t know. This is an opportunity to get to know others, and people from other countries. You know, when you’re out there, you’re going to get opportunities to go up to people — don’t be too shy. It’s great to talk to them about their faith and share with people from different countries if you have a common language or sometimes you kind of use sign language to communicate. But that’s a beautiful part of World Youth Day. You get a broader experience of the Catholic Church, both in our own diocese, but then beyond.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.