—A contingent of 34 young adults and 19 adults represented the Diocese of Amarillo in Madrid for World Youth Day last month.
The West Texas Catholic asked a number of the adults and young adults to share their thoughts about their experience:
“One thing indicative from last month’s World Youth Day happened at the Vigil on Saturday night. In the middle of the Vigil, a storm blew through the area, which delayed Pope Benedict’s message by 10 to 20 minutes. So the announcer told the young people that Adoration would begin earlier than scheduled. It was incredible to watch 2 million young people enter into absolute silence at the request of the Holy Father. That speaks volumes of the good character of our young people—it shows the future is good for the Church. I am anxiously awaiting World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro July 23-28. I encourage everyone planning to attend to begin planning and raising funds.”
—Bishop Patrick J. Zurek
“This year I had the great pleasure of being Bishop (Patrick J.) Zurek’s representative with our World Youth Day delegation. I must say after four WYD’s the excitement still swells within when the Holy Father arrives. Although the religious sisters and priests push like crazy, our young people ‘held the line’ and were within four feet of Pope Benedict. Although the temperatures were hotter in Spain than the U.S., the trip as a whole was an outstanding spiritual and cultural experience. I truly believe the young people of our diocese not only had an eye-opening experience or reality in Europe but a spiritual strong boost as well.”
—Father Daniel Dreher, Chaplain/Executive Director, Catholic Student Center at West Texas A&M University
“It has been a great experience to attend my fifth World Youth Day. Every World Youth Day is the same and different when it comes to organizing and executing but the love and faith of the young people amazes me every time. When we arrived at Days in the Diocese we were welcomed with a kiss on both cheeks from the people at Malaga, Spain and I could see that some of our young people from the delegation did not feel comfortable, but I prayed that every wall would come down so that the young people would be open to what was coming ahead.
“As we traveled to Madrid, everyone was ready to see Pope Benedict XVI and our delegation was ready after spending over six hours in the hot sun in order to be in front of the barricades. After our young people saw the Pope passed, I had a young lady share with me with joy in her heart, ‘Now I can go to heaven.’ I could see that the young people and I had a strong love for Pope Benedict XVI as we had for John Paul II as tears came down our eyes. The chant ‘We are the youth of Pope’ – ‘Somos la juventud del Papa’ would bring chills to your spine as thousands chanted. The experience of a World Youth Day – ‘Jornada Mundial de la Juventud’ will not be forgotten by any of our youth. It is a pilgrimage that stays in your heart forever.
“Believe it or not… but the Office of Youth Ministry is already looking at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for 2013 and some have already called to join the delegation.”
Diocesan Youth Director
“World Youth day was nothing short of amazing. My experience was one that I will never forget. Everything from seeing Pope Benedict XVI, to meeting and communicating with people who share the same faith from all over the world. Though we had struggles, serious heat, lack of water and a few times where we were completely lost, it was all worth it in the end. I would definitely go again if I ever get another chance. God was watching over us and I now see everyday as a blessing.”
St. Ann’s Church, Canyon
“Our days in Malaga were great. We got to see some of the historical sites, had some very interesting food and spent time at the beach. We met groups from Iraq, Poland, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa and Jamaica. We went on to Madrid, but were too late for the opening Mass. When Pope Benedict entered the city, we were about four feet away from him as he passed by. That was an awesome experience.
“We waited for 10 hours in 102° heat at Cuatro Vientos for the vigil with the Pope. After staying in the heat all day, I was not feeling well and some of our group went back into Madrid and stayed in a hotel instead of staying all night at the airfield. We did not go back for the final Mass; instead Father Daniel Dreher said Mass for our group in Madrid. The overall experience was good but I felt we missed out on some important events.”
St. Ann’s Church, Canyon
“World Youth Day was an amazing experience. It opened my eyes to the universal diversity of the Catholic Church. I got to experience a different culture and met people from every continent. On Thursday by a happy mistake, we stood on the sidewalk for 10 hours and by the grace of God, we were five feet away from the Pope. On Friday we watched various apostalate groups carry the cross during Stations of the Cross. On Saturday we burned in the sun during the day and got rained on at night. We spent time with Jesus through Adoration. It was a great event where friendships were made and it would not have happened for me without the support from the people of my parish.”
St. Mary’s Church, Umbarger
“My experience in Spain was amazing. Having the chance to see the Pope was the coolest thing. We were so close it was awesome. Being able to go to Church with people from Spain and Tanzania Africa was the coolest experience. Getting to celebrate Mass with them was a once in a lifetime thing and I’m glad I got to share that experience with everyone that went to World Youth Day from our diocese.”
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Amarillo
Click Here to see video and pictures from WYD 2011