September 2, 2011

Living the faith: Young adults from archdiocese embrace the universal spirit of World Youth Day

One of the many fun things about World Youth Day is connecting with people from other countries. Dana Petricka, left, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, signs the shirt of a young pilgrim from Paris, France. Behind her, Father Rick Nagel, director of the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, Catholic chaplain at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and administrator of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, signs the shirt of another pilgrim. (Photo by Megan Fish)

One of the many fun things about World Youth Day is connecting with people from other countries. Dana Petricka, left, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, signs the shirt of a young pilgrim from Paris, France. Behind her, Father Rick Nagel, director of the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, Catholic chaplain at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and administrator of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, signs the shirt of another pilgrim. (Photo by Megan Fish)

By Breanna Holder (Special to The Criterion)

MADRID—In the distance, Kate Eder saw the storm clouds forming as she stood among the 44 young adults from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Diocese of Lafayette who had traveled to Spain to take part in World Youth Day. (Related: See our World Youth Day photo galleries)

Part of the crowd of 1.5 million people from around the world, the pilgrims waited for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI, who joined them in eucharistic adoration on Aug. 20.

Shortly after the Holy Father arrived, the wind gusted and the rain drenched the pilgrims, who huddled together at the Cuatro Vientos air base.

Despite the intense rain and strong wind, a sense of communion and enthusiasm connected the pilgrims. In many languages, cheers and chants poured out. Then the pilgrims began shouting praises of “Benedicto”—Spanish for Benedict—to the Holy Father.

That moment overwhelmed Eder, a member of St. Mary Parish in North Vernon.

“To see more than one million people on their knees in adoration was so amazing,” she said. “It showed the Church as one body of Christ.”

That scene was one of the most memorable moments for the pilgrims during their 10-day trip to Spain from Aug. 13-22.

Here is a snapshot look at the faith-enriching days of the pilgrimage.

Aug. 15

After two days of air travel, the pilgrims arrived in Avila, Spain. Avila is the hometown of St. Teresa of Avila, the founder of the Discalced Carmelites and one of three female saints in the history of the Catholic faith who have been honored as a doctor of the Church.

In the late morning, the pilgrims participated in a Mass at a church dedicated to St. Teresa. A choir spontaneously composed of pilgrims from across the United States filled the church with song.

For archdiocesan pilgrim Maggie Hagenauer, it was a special moment because of her devotion to St. Teresa.

“I fully realized where I was when I was in her church,” said Hagenauer, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. “I looked around and saw all of the images and statues she looked at when she prayed. I felt at peace.”

Aug. 16

The day started with a bus trip to Toledo for a tour of that city’s castle-like cathedral and churches.

During the visit, several young adults from Venezuela ran up to the archdiocesan group and began talking in English, asking the pilgrims what they thought of World Youth Day so far. Many had their country’s flags wrapped around them as they sang and chanted in the streets.

The Brazilians were another group that couldn’t be missed because of their energy and enthusiasm throughout the week. They often gathered together, laughing, singing and dancing.

At eucharistic adoration on this day, it was evident that no matter what a person’s nationality or language, the Eucharist was the center of everyone’s life.

That connection continued later when the pilgrims returned to Madrid for the World Youth Day opening Mass with more than 1.5 million young adults from around the world.

Aug. 17-18

Catechesis started at the Love and Life Center, a venue for English-speaking pilgrims in Madrid. The events at the center were led by the Sisters of Life and the Knights of Columbus.

The Sisters of Life radiated enthusiasm and excitement to the crowd of about 12,000 young adults during their talks before the catechetical sessions. On Aug. 18, the sisters and several musicians added rap versions to many of the traditional hymns during Mass.

“The sisters bring such life to the entire room,” said pilgrim Yasmin Navarro, a member of St. Anthony Parish in Indianapolis. “I cannot help but feel their joy through their laughter and smiles.”

One of the best talks was by Curtis Martin, founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. His words about striving to be saints touched the hearts of thousands of pilgrims.

“Go out and live the faith,” he told the young adults.

On the evening of Aug. 18, the energetic crowd welcomed the Holy Father. People from all parts of the world stood beside each other, talking as friends.

“I may not know your name,” an Italian pilgrim said, “but I know why you are here and how important it is to you.”

Aug. 19

A group from the archdiocese sat in the front row of the center for the catechesis and Mass with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

During the Mass, young people waved their country’s flags as they sang.

“Love the Church and every aspect of it,” Archbishop Dolan said. “It is more than living for one’s self, but also to invite others.”

In the afternoon, the 44 pilgrims formed smaller groups to weave through the streets of Madrid for the vivid, life-size Stations of the Cross. The stations were collected from many of the churches throughout Spain. As the pope traveled the path in his popemobile, young people walked alongside his vehicle.

“It was very inspiring to see so many young people journeying through the Lord’s Passion with the Holy Father,” said pilgrim Dayne Holder, a student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. “It was a very spirit-filled event.”

Aug. 20-21

As the afternoon of Aug. 20 approached, the archdiocesan pilgrims geared up to make the four-hour journey by foot to the site of the vigil and Mass with the Holy Father. The group prayed the rosary along the way.

“[It] was a great opportunity to evangelize through the streets of Madrid,” said Dana Petricka, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish. “It was a true witness of living out our Catholic faith.”

The vigil with the Holy Father had a short weather delay, but carried on into the night with pilgrims participating in eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation. As the night drew to a close, many people tried to catch a few hours of sleep to be ready for Mass with the Holy Father on Aug. 21.

After a rainy, cold night, the sun rose to clear skies, and the Holy Father arrived with a warm and humble greeting for the young pilgrims.

“Amigos, amigos,” he addressed the young adults, thanking them for weathering the storm.

Father Rick Nagel was among the priests who concelebrated the Mass.

“Looking out from the stage, all you could see was a sea of people,” said Father Nagel, director of the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, Catholic chaplain at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and administrator of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. “It was very joyful to see all the people in the crowd.”

At the end of the Mass, the Holy Father gave a blessing to all the pilgrims and to their families and loved ones at home. Many of the pilgrims phoned home to share the news that the pope had just included them in his blessing.

Aug. 22

Before leaving for the airport, the group celebrated Mass in the courtyard at the hotel.

“I do not think anyone can go on this trip and not come back changed,” said Hagenhauer, expressing the group sentiment of the 44 pilgrims.

World Youth Day ended in Madrid, but it will forever be in the hearts and minds of the pilgrims. It will also remain in the hearts and minds of the more than 1.5 million young adult Catholics from around the world who came together to celebrate their faith, and are already excited about World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. †

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