Prospective World Youth Day pilgrims from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend convened at Sacred Heart Parish, Warsaw, on the Feast of All Souls to celebrate Mass, hear from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, and grow in formation with each other.
The evening began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Rhoades. He began his homily by talking about the upcoming pilgrimage to Portugal.
“We will visit holy sites, like the shrine at Fátima. We go on pilgrimage to be renewed and strengthened in our faith, to pray and draw closer to God. And we will join other young pilgrims from throughout the world. It will be an experience of the universal Church gathered with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and bishops from around the world, the successors of the Apostles, in communion with the Pope, the successor of the Apostle Peter. There will be thousands of priests, religious sisters and brothers, and adult youth leaders and chaperones, all of us together celebrating our unity in Jesus Christ.”
He went on to say that pilgrimages “evoke our earthly journey toward heaven.”
“That’s the great pilgrimage: our journey to the promised land of heaven. We are a pilgrim people. God gives us this time on earth, a time of grace and mercy, on our way to be united with Him and all the saints in heaven.”
Bishop Rhoades added that, on the Feast of All Souls, the Church commemorates the faithful departed with particular attention to the souls in purgatory.
“Though their earthly pilgrimage has ended, they are not yet with God and the saints in heaven. To enter into communion with God in heaven requires perfect integrity, which means absolute purity and no attachment to sin. God, in His love, provides for the purification after death of those whom He has saved who need to have the remnants of sin removed so that they can enter into the glory of heaven.”
After Mass, pilgrims gathered for dinner. As they ate, Bishop Rhoades talked to them about his previous World Youth Day experiences, as well as steps that they should take to prepare for their journey to unite with youth from around the globe.
“I want to highly recommend that you read and meditate on Pope Francis’s message for World Youth Day 2023.”
The bishop explained that the theme for the upcoming World Youth Day celebration comes from the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary: “Mary Arose and Went with Haste.”
“After Mary conceived Jesus, she didn’t just stay put in Nazareth. The angel revealed to her that her cousin Elizabeth, in her old age, was pregnant: as you know, pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary set out to this little town near Jerusalem, Ein Kerem, I think it’s like 90 kilometers from Nazareth, so it was quite a journey. She went out in order to help her cousin, Elizabeth, she went with haste. Think of that image: she didn’t just receive Jesus for herself, Jesus in her womb, she brought Jesus with her. She carried him to that work of charity for her cousin. This is kind of like what we’re called to do: to arise, not to be self-centered, but to go out. She went with haste to visit Elizabeth. She was a missionary disciple.”
After this, John Pratt, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, continued to give the pilgrims recommendations on how to prepare for World Youth Day before splitting the youth and young adults into separate formation groups.
“What we hope this will be is a ‘preparation of spiritual journey’ in which you prepare and come back and reflect on everything that has happened,” Pratt said. “For me, in my experience going to World Youth Day, it was the months following the event where I’m just processing all that impacted me on the pilgrimage.”
He asked the pilgrims, “Who are you going to keep in mind and prayer during this pilgrimage? What do you hope might change in your life as a result of this journey to Portugal? What is God asking of you?”
World Youth Day is an international celebration of Catholic young people that occurs every few years at the direction of Pope Francis. In a statement, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Episcopal Liaison to World Youth Day, said that the bishop’s conference is “overjoyed to now have the dates we can look forward to when millions of people will come together and join the Holy Father for World Youth Day in Lisbon in August of 2023.
“It is providential that the World Youth Day Mass with the Holy Father will take place on the feast of the Transfiguration, Aug. 6, 2023. The experience of Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration was a pivotal moment of transformation for them. We hope that World Youth Day will have a similar impact on young people today, no matter where or how they make this pilgrimage to celebrate this special international festival of faith.”
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