January 20, 2019
While temperatures in Northern Indiana reached single digits, pilgrims from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend arrived in Panama to a heat index of more than 97 degrees. However, even with the change of climate, the spirits of the pilgrims were enthusiastic and excited to finally come together as an entire group.
Pilgrims from the local diocese arrived in three groups. The first arrived Saturday morning, Jan. 19. Seminarians from the diocese flew directly from Mount St. Mary’s University and arrived Sunday morning, Jan. 20, with the remainder of the group arriving Sunday afternoon.
The original plan was for Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to celebrate Mass in the Church of St. Francis in Antigua, or, the Old City. However, with the transportation of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims that were arriving for the international World Youth Day event, buses were scarce. So, diocesan pilgrims came together for Mass that was celebrated in a specially reserved hotel conference room space.
Bishop Rhoades extended an animated welcome to the pilgrims and reflected on the connection between the Sunday Gospel of the wedding feast at Cana and the theme of World Youth Day during his homily. The 2019 World Youth Day theme is Mary’s response at the annunciation: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
Bishop Rhoades encouraged the pilgrims to ponder the deeper meaning of the Scripture that was presented to them. “The words in the theme of WYD reflect Mary’s basic and fundamental attitude and spirit, the same attitude and spirit that we see at the wedding feast in Cana: faith and openness to God’s will,” he said.
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