Papal Visit 2008

Youth leaving to see the pope

Welcome to the blog dedicated to covering our 44 young people who are traveling to New York to take part in a youth rally with Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the United States. Check back from April 17-20 for photos and updates (and after the trip for any follow-up material).

Highlighted blog posts

Who posted on this blog?

Katie Ciresi is a senior at Bishop Chatard high school and a member of Christ the King parish. She writes, "I am very excited for the trip, being a part of this is an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life."

Brandon A. Evans, archdiocesan website manager, will be taking Katie's material (photos, updates, etc.) and doing the actual posting on this page.

Blog entries

Wrap-Up News Coverage

Logo for Papal Visit to the United States 2008One last thing to post regarding this trip: news coverage from The Criterion, our official archdiocesan newspaper.

Below is a list of the eight stories ran in our April 25, 2008 issue regarding Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S. The stories are concerned with local angles to the visit, and a few of them are about the youth that took part in the trip chronicled on this blog.

Click on any of the links to read the story:

And in closing, thank you again to Katie Ciresi for all her photos and updates, and to those of you that regularly checked this blog.

Be sure to join us this July for similar blog devoted to covering World Youth Day 2008!

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 2:48 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2008


Another Group Photo

Group photoNow that the youth are back home, I have no further photos or updates to post from Katie -- many thanks to her for her hard work over the past few days!

To the right is a group photo that was part of the "On the Road Home" photo gallery in the previous post. I've pulled it out and you can click on the link below to get a larger version of it.

Don't forget to check The Criterion later this week for a story about this pilgrimage from our intern, Bryce Bennett. I will also try to link to that story from this blog.

I will keep this blog up indefinitely for anyone who wants to see the photos.

See a large version of the group photo here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 2:57 p.m. on Monday, April 21, 2008

On the Road Home

Shrine of Our Lady of CzestochowaFrom Katie:

We departed at 6:30 a.m. this morning.  We arrived at the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa were we celebrated mass.  We then enjoyed a nice lunch provided by the people of the shrine.

As we were touring the shrine, we met the priest who proceeded to tell us the history of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  He also gave us a tour of the shrine and prayed with us. 

We visited the gift shop and then departed for the trip home.  We are about eight hours away from Indianapolis and have just stopped at a rest stop to switch drivers. 

See all the photos for "On the Road Home" here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 7:55 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, 2008


Youth Rally Updates, Photos and Reflections

Papal Youth RallyKatie sent along a lot today: an update from the youth rally, a photo gallery and reflections from a few of the youth. Enjoy!

Photo Gallery:
Update from Katie:

Today was long awaited day of visiting our holy father, Pope Benedict XVI. 

We started the morning off early, arriving at a parking lot near the seminary.  We were then bussed from the parking lot to the seminary.  Once at the seminary, we had to pass through security. 

Finally, we were inside “the field.”  Being inside the area was amazing.  There were vendors and people everywhere. 

After settling our group in an area, several people decided to explore the area; meanwhile, the rest of us played cards, napped or enjoyed the entertainement. 

They had several different entertainers at the event.  Everything from Christian rappers, to Irish dancers, a Step groups, a girl’s school choir and even Kelly Clarkson. 

We roughly spent from 10 a.m. until the arrival of the Pope around 4:30 p.m. entertaining ourselves in the field.

Merhcandise including t-shirts, bags and medals were being sold.  Upon our arrival, we were all given free food vouchers, food cost $6 if you wanted to buy more. 

They offered an adoration chapel, a chapel to pray in and confession.

When the moment finally arrived and the Pope arrived, the mood in the field was absolutely incredible.  I think it was possibly one of the coolest things I, personally, have heard, twenty thousand young people all chanting “We love you.”  To say that the Pope was received well by all would be an understatement.

In an interview earlier this week, one newscaster asked me if I thought that the Pope had a “rock star status,” I was hesistant to say yes at first, but after seeing him today, I can say that he is with out a doubt a “rock star.”  The almost 1.5 hours we had with the Pope were amazing.  He was presented with many gifts from youth and we had the pleasure of listening to a history of saints from New York.  

Next, Pope Benedict gave his papal address to the crowd.  Listening to such a holy and inspiring man was absolutely incredible, almost indescribable. 

The words in his address that stuck out the most to me was when he said, “Prayer is hope in actions,” at this point I’m not exactly sure why I found those words to be so meaningful, but they are what stuck out to me the most. 

Upon the conclusion of his address, he blessed the crowd and then sang a closing song. 

We then had to navigate out of the crowd of 20,000 and through the streets to the bus. 

When we arrived back at Sacred Heart, we celebrated mass and then ate a pizza dinner.  We are now preparing for our 6:30 a.m. departure.

Youth Reflections:

We had an extremely amazing experience today in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, descendant of St. Peter. 

- Evan Freese

I don’t think we could have had better luck.  We were 100 yards away from the most influential person in the world.  We were very fortunate. 

- Zach Hartley

I think seeing the Pope is exactly what it’ll be like when I graduate: you know that you’re supposed to feel something, but you don’t actually experience it until it happens. Seeing the Pope was awe-inspiring and unbelievably unreal. I couldn’t get used to the fact that there was nothing but air between me and the Pope. It was kinda like going from glasses to contacts. Just the realization of the proximity of such a man was not something I could acclimate myself to. The armed gunmen distracted me little from what the Pope had to say in his quaint German accent.

But what is so great about the Pope? Isn’t he just another man chosen to do God’s Will? Isn’t that what each of us is called to do anyway? Don’t get me wrong. The Pope has the hardest job in the entire world, and no other job is as stressful. What I’m trying to say is that every day, a more holy visitation occurs in every church around the world. Jesus is infinitely more Holy than any man; He is the source of holiness. I will always try to remember the awe-inspiring sensation that the Papal Visit instilled in me so that I can apply it to the unique yet universal Eucharist.

- Mikey Padilla

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 12:19 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, 2008


Youth Rally News Story

Read all about today's youth rally in this Catholic News Service story, and also check the text of what the pope said to our youth and thousands of others. (Update on 06-03-08: See here for all papal coverage)

News story:
Text of addresses:

More to come later, I'm sure, from Katie.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 7:24 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, 2008



Empire State BuildingA big update from Katie about all that they did yesterday (photos posted below):

Day two of the papal trip was filled with many exciting adventures in New York city.  We started the morning off by meeting our “tour guides,” a woman by the name of Mickie and her son and friend, Randy and Phil.

We began our day with a game.  Everyone had to get into groups of a specific number.  Those not in a group were out of the game.  Finally, one winner was named, Bill was supposed to receive a prize at lunch (I still think he has not received the prize.)

When we realized we would have to wait like twenty minutes for the train, we proceeded to play another game to get to know people better.  After managing to navigate the train with fifty people, we were finally in New York.  We started our tour of New York in Grand Central Station. 

Navigating the busy streets on New York is no easy task, but we were able to arrive at Rockefeller Plaza and even walk around where the Today Show is taped.  Some of us were fortunate to see one of the hosts from the Today Show.  One of the correspondents from channel 13 met up with us in Rockefeller Center and talked with a few of the youth.

Our first main stop was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Once there we were able to celebrate mass. 
Then we walked through Times Square on our way to lunch.  Lunch was at a pizzeria called John’s Pizza.  The restaurant was formerly a church.  The interior was very cool. 

We did some more sightseeing including seeing the Empire State building. 

Next we decided to navigate the Subway system.  Once off the Subway, we were able to see the Statue of Liberty.

Then we decided to stop into the shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.  The pastor of the church there told us the history of the church and of Saint Elizabeth.  The pastor also told us about an Episcopalian church down the road called Holy Trinity.  We stopped in to see the church.  This is the church that was featured in the movie National Treasure. 

We then journeyed to see Ground Zero.  It was very surreal to see it almost seven years after the attacks happened.  They are building a tribute to the people who lost their lives.  We saw the cross that was found after the attacks and then stopped into St. Peter’s church, the oldest church in New York. 

Finally we ate dinner at Applebees and then began the long journey through the streets of New York, the subway, the train and the bus until we were safely at Sacred Heart. 

Most of the youth are taking showers and resting up in anticipation of the long day we have tomorrow. 

Since Katie sent so many photos, I've split them up into three galleries. The first gallery is the biggest, and shows photos from the sightseeing they did around New York City (including Ground Zero). The second gallery shows some of the religious places they visited, and the last gallery is from some of the meals they ate together. Enjoy!

Photo Galleries:

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 1:11 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, 2008


Group Photo

Unloading the busI just got a big ole batch of photos from Katie (137 in all) -- that's right, I said One-Hundred-Thirty-Seven photos.

Many thanks to Katie, but as it's quite late I'll have to be posting them tomorrow!

Still, I couldn't resist pushing at least one of them through tonight: a group photo that Katie must have taken amid the busyness of the day. If you click on the photo to the right you'll get a bigger version, but if you want the full, original size shot, click on the link below.

Many, many more sightseeing photos tomorrow!

See a large version of the group photo here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 12:16 a.m. on Saturday, April 19, 2008


Day Two - Breakfast

Unloading the busBetween the photos for this update and the ones from "Arrival at Sacred Heart" I feel tired by proxy!

Here are the latest news and photos from Katie:

After an early morning wakeup, most of the gentlemen participated in morning prayer and then proceeded to decorate the kitchen for everyone in the papal colors of red, white and yellow. 

All of the youth enjoyed breakfast followed by more “get to know your neighbor” activities.  We are now preparing to leave to tour the city.

See all the photos for "Breakfast" here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 11:27 a.m. on Friday, April 18, 2008


Arrival at Sacred Heart

Unloading the busThey've made it:

We arrived safely at Sacred Heart, unpacked the bus and are settling into our rooms.  We were able to see all of the sights of New York, in the dark of course, on our way to Sacred Heart.

We passed such sights as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Ellis Island. 

A number of the pictures on the bus can be attributed to Father Meyer.

All of the youth will for sure be preparing for the long awaited night of sleep in preparation for the busy day we have tomorrow.

See all the photos for "Arrival at Sacred Heart" here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 11:16 a.m. on Friday, April 18, 2008


Dinner Stop

Playing at the rest stopMore from Katie while on the journey east:

We are back on the road now after a dinner stop at Old Country Buffet.  The dinner was enjoyed by all, ice cream, chicken, salads and all.  We want to thank everyone at the Old Country Buffet for being so hospitable and accommodating. 

The bus trip has been filled with many “activities.”  We enjoyed watching several movies and then live television coverage of the Pope in Washington, D.C.  We prayed the divine mercy chaplet and are now singing many songs of worship, which included a duet by Paul and Father Meyer. 

We are between two and three hours away from New York and are anxiously awaiting our arrival.

See all the photos for "Dinner Stop" here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 8:33 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, 2008


Rest Stop Number One

Playing at the rest stopI'm not sure if this means that we're going to have multiple rest stop updates, but it seems like the youth did manage to have some fun while getting a chance to stretch their legs. From Katie:

We just got back on the bus after a short rest stop.  The youth participated in an ice breaker game hopefully meeting new people.  The game consisted of pretending to be an egg and then by playing rock, paper, scissors, slowly working their way through evolution to become a human.  It was quite a hilarious sight to see.

We are now on the bus and enjoying our lunches while we watch an interview of the Pope to be able to learn more about him.

See all the photos for "Rest Stop Number One" here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 3:17 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, 2008



Posing with the popeOur first note from Katie (in mid-trip), along with some photos:

The trip has so far gone off without any problems.  All youth arrived at the Catholic Center on time to load the bus and celebrate mass.  Coverage of the trip has been provided by all four major news networks.  As many of you may have already discovered. 

After celebrating mass, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast provided by the parents.  Father Meyer shared some last minute instructions and it was time to board the bus. 

We headed outside to bless the bus and say our last goodbyes to our parents.  We’ve been on the bus for about ah hour now, and already we have sang happy birthday to Paul’s (one of the chaperones) mom and are now enjoying watching the move.

See all the photos for "Departure" here

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 3:09 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, 2008


They're Off!

The youth, accompanied by a life-size cut-out of Pope Benedict XVI, just left the Catholic Center in downtown Indianapolis a few moments ago on their bus. A couple of camera crews were on hand from the local television stations, as well as some interest onlookers.

May God bless and protect them on their journey, that they may return safe and enlivened with the love of Jesus Christ. Our Lady of the Perpetual Help, pray for them!

(As we now wait for the first images and updates to come to us from Katie, perhaps everyone who reads this might say a Hail Mary for our youth as they travel.)

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 8:50 a.m. on Thursday, April 17, 2008


A Little Background about this trip

Papal visit logoThe following was written by Father Jonathan Meyer, archdiocesan director of youth ministry, who will be leading the trip:

44 youth and 6 adults are traveling from Indianapolis, IN to New York to See Pope Benedict the 16th.  The group will depart from the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul after the celebration of Holy Mass at 7:00 am on Thursday, April 17th.  The group is composed of youth from all over the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  The youth are from a wide rage of cities including:  Indianapolis, Terra haute, Richmond, Columbus, Batesville, Bedford, Mitchell, Greenfield, Mooresville, Noblesville, Monrovia, Greenwood, Shelbyville, Brazil, Lebanon and Bloomington. 

The group will travel all day Thursday, arriving late in the evening at Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers, NY.  This will serve as the residence for the group for the next three days.  Friday will be spent visiting the sites of NY City.  The group will visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Noon Mass.  Their site seeing will include: Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, Time Square, Central Park, and the home of St. Elizabeth Anne Seton.

Saturday will be spent preparing for the arrival of Pope Benedict.  The group will arrive at St. Joseph Seminary for the Papal Visit.  Check-in begins at 9:00 am.  The pope dies not enter the grounds of the seminary until 4:30 pm.  Each person has to be screened by the Secret Service,.  There will be 20,000 youth from across America in attendance.   The pope will be with the youth for about 1.5 hours.  There will be entertainment, song and lots of celebrating.

After the papal visit the youth will spend the night celebrating Mass, sharing their experiences and getting some rest.  The next day, Sunday, will be spent  traveling back to Indianapolis.  The group will stop by the National Shrine of our Lady of Czestochowa on their return.

We look forward to sharing our experiences with you.  Please pray for our travels and know of our prayers for you as we go to see PETER!!!!

In His Priesthood,

Fr. Meyer

I'm not sure when Katie will be able to start sending material, but bookmark this page and check back periodically. I will post information as soon as I receive it and am able.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 4:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Papal visit news and resources

CNS papal visit logoIf you're following Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic journey to the United States from April 15-20, then be sure to swing by our papal visit resource page -- we've got more pope news there then you can shake a stick at.

We are offering up-to-date news stories, the text of the pope's various addresses, a video message from the pope, links to loads of resources and, of course, a link back to this blog.

(Update on 06-03-08: See here for all papal coverage)

Check it out!

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 4:58 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Previous blogs

This isn't the first time that The Criterion has sponsored or produced a special blog for an event or pilgrimage. In the past, we've done blogs for youth mission trips, the pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization of St. Theodora Guérin, and World Youth Day 2005.

I've provided links to some of those other blogs for you to check out until we get some other content on this site.

As an additional note, be watching this summer for our blog coverage of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia! Katie Berger, who has blogged for us before, will be providing the "live" coverage.

Previous blogs:

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 11:54 a.m. on Monday, April 14, 2008



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