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World Youth Day 2011


 

Our World Youth Day Group was in Spain and here are the reports we received from one of them

Monday 22 August
Day 12

Natalia writes: Some of the group already left at 3.30am and 5.30am but we were the lucky ones that our flight from Bilbao left at 23.55 so we are leaving Galdos Residence that was our home for the last week at 9am to head to Bilbao. We had a great lunch at Burgos, a city on the way that has the most beautiful cathedral. Burgos is part of "El Camino de Santiago" (St. James way). It was nice to have this extra day to start to come back slowly to normality and not t suffer so much back in London.

I made so many friends; the Westminster group was amazing, we really had a wonderful experience, and I'm sure that what make it extra special was the beautiful people of our group. 

To all concerned, thank you very much for this wonderful experience, I can't wait to tell you all in person. As soon as possible we'll get pictures put on this website.

Sunday 21 August
Day 11

Natalia writes: At 7.30am we heard from the speakers of Cuatro Vientos a loud "Buenos Dias" (good Morning) and we started to prepare for the last day of WYD. A small group managed to follow morning prayer and then the great majority, fighting tiredness, made the most of the Mass with the Holy Father. The previous night storm had left some chapels destroyed and some taken down for security reasons.This left most of the 1 million pilgrims without communion for the Sunday Mass. Our group had priests with us so we received a blessing. It was a touching moment. Priests we had got to know really well over the past 2 weeks, walked silently around the group, giving a blessing, addressing you by name. In a way it was more moving than if we'd had communion from a stranger. 

After the Mass the Pope announce that next WYD will be in Rio 2013, we have only 2 years to prepare and I truly hope that St. Mary's have a big young group to live such a wonderful and unique experience.

Saturday 20 August
Day 10

Natalia writes: Today was the most physically hard day of the whole WYD and of my life, at least that is how I feel about. Today we had our walk to Cuatro Vientos to have the Vigil with the Holy Father. Of our group of 120 people, 4 of us had the brilliant idea to walk from the door of our Residence to Cuatro Vientos (8 miles) from 12.30pm at the hottest time of the day, in the group was Anna and I so you can say that some St. Mary's pilgrims are masochists !  
I must confess that many times I thought that was a crazy idea, but now I feel so proud of myself that I was capable to offer my pilgrim's feet to the Lord in thanks for such an amazing experience. We met our group in the last Metro station at 4pm and we walked all together the final miles. When we arrived to Cuatro Vientos I couldn't believe the amount of people, Cuatro Vientos is a Military Airport of 110 hectares but even that wasn't enough for the almost 2 Million crowd.

We had a bit of chaos as many pilgrims couldn't get to the designated areas because many people without passes also got in; so, instead of being in zone E1, we ended in zone H3 (outside the passes zone); this gave us a bit of a problem as all the food was inside.

But the adventure was just starting, when we thought that we had finally made it. Just as the Pope arrived for the Adoration, a big storm blew up. I remember being sat with my friend covered by an umbrella and hoping that the lighting didn't hit us! but it never crossed our mind to run away or go back home. We all started to pray and suddenly everybody started to cheers: "Esta es la Juventus del Papa" (This is the Youth of the Pope), "Viva el Papa" (Long live the Pope) and "Benedicto". It was such a wonderful moment when the rain stopped and, even though the Holy Father couldn't give the speech he had prepared, when the rain stopped and finally he could be heard, the Pope’s first words were to thank his hearers for their “Joy and resistance. Our straight is stronger then the rain. Thank you”. Could any two words (Joy and Resistance) more powerfully sum up qualities needful for the Christian journey? That frightening storm may not have been of God; but its fruits surely were. Then we knelt in the mud before the Blessed Sacrament. The rain stopped and the wind calmed down and when the Pope returned for Adoration, the kneeling and silence of 2 Million people was a unique and powerful experience. After several minutes of silence and adoration the Holy Father left and, at the same time, the storm came back. We all looked at each other with surprise oin our faces: how was it possible that the storm stopped just for Adoration? What a special moment!!!!
At midnight, we started our hunting for food. A group of 14 of us tried to "cross the border" to cash the food vouchers: just 6 of us made it and, after an hour walk through the crowed and queues, we manage to cash 83 food packs, each of them weighing c. 3 kilos. So, do the maths and 6 of us (just one man) now had 83 bags of 3 kilos. So this is what we did: 3 took 15 bags and the rest guarded the rest for 2 hours waiting for the other 3 to come back with extra hands. That was really hard work, we managed to get back with the food to our group at 3am!!!
When I was walking with 4 of the bags I couldn't stop thinking of how lucky we are: many women in Africa need to walk miles with heavy jugs of water and we just needed to do it for one day. It was a tough night that made us go deeper in our pilgrimage.

Friday 19 August
Day 9

Natalia writes:Today was our last Cathachesis given by Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel & Brighton.After an uplifting Mass, we started "Mission Via Crucis": this was to collect our packed lunch, fight the heat and walk through the crowd to find the perfect place with a good view of the Stations of the Cross under a tree.  All our effort paid off when the Holy Father passed twice in his Pope Mobile in front of us! We were very blessed.
VIA CRUCIS: The way of the Cross was presided over by the Holy Father from the central Altar located at Plaza de Cibeles. The Pope was accompanied by fourteen pilgrims representing the suffering of young people across the world. These representatives carried the Cross of the Youth and the icon from station to station.

The way of the Cross had fifteen "pasos"  (floats containing life-size wooden sculptures typical of Spanish Holy Week). Many of these pasos are unique artistic gems which were exhibited for the first time ever - some of them date back to several centuries ago - outside their original backgrounds and the Holy Week context. Paseo de Recoletos was totally blocked by the pasos and the hundreds of cofrades or members of the brotherhood who are assigned to carry them.
Our group was in between Station numbers 9 and 10: during this section the Cross was carried by unemployed young people. We prayed today for the unemployed.

Thursday 18 August
Day 8

Madrid: Natalia writes:Yesterday was a wonderful busy and loud day as Pope Benedict arrived in the morning in Spain and, as soon as the he touched down, all the church bells rang everywhere in Madrid. After our Catachesis, we were guided by Jeffrey to one of his favourite place sto have lunch; we have been given vouchers so we can go to many places around the city and try different menus made specially for the pilgrims.
After a very generous lunch we went to find a place where we could welcome the Pope and ended up around a big screen because pilgrims and Spanish people started to gather very early. It was so uplifting to see so many people getting together for the same reason. The Pope was wonderful and spoke to us in many languages. We had a wonderful surprise when we saw that one of the members of the Ordinariate from Alan Hall read the Gospel, Fr Steven Wang was very proud indeed.
We ended our magnificent day with a trip to the museum El Prado that had a special exhibition from us called "The word made image" and was open until midnight yesterday. It was very nice to have the museum almost to ourselves after having tried to get in on Tuesday when there was around 3 hours queue. Today is another busy day but I will tell you all about that later.
My reflection of the day for you is the WYD message this year: "Be planted and built up in Jesus, firm in the faith"

Wednesday 17 August
Day 7
Madrid: Natalia writes: I haven't forget you but there are so many activities here in Madrid that it is hard to make the time to write you. Yesterday, officially the start of our WYD was very inspiring to see so many youngsters having Mass together despite the hot weather. The mass was said by the Archbishop of Madrid, joined by 800 bishops and thousands of priests. They say that pictures speak better than words and definitely this crowd moved my heart. After the mass, everybody was happy singing and cheering for the Lord. Madrid is full of happy and good young Catholics. The Spanish people have been so welcoming and community is written in every part of the organisation of this WYD. After an euphoric start, a little bit of calm was need so we started the day with a morning Catachesis with the Archbishop of Massachusetts where he made us reflect about many things but one was: " TIME IS PRECIOUS, THE LORD IS CALLING US RIGHT NOW". This really touched my heart and would share it with you: don't wait for tomorrow to build a strong relation with God. We continue our calm day during our free time with Taize Prayer which was very touching and uplifting. There are many things to take in so we need to relax a bit so I leave you now as a flamenco is waiting for us. -----
Sunday 14 August
Day 4

Avila: Natalia writes: Yesterday we finally say good-bye to Salamanca, we leave very early to visit Avila, we first went to the Monastery where St Teresa got in to the convent. It was a very wonderful experience, I wouldn't consider myself a devotee of St Teresa but after being here and knowing more about her, we are definitely going to start a friendship.
When I was waiting for the group to get into the museum I started to talk with a lovely nun of the community and she was so happy to see so many youths. She told me that she is praying for many of the youngsters to open their hearts to the Lord and listen for the call of vocation.   I was very surprise by her comment as just the day before we were talking about the need to be open to listen for the Lord knocking at our door.  Please join the sister and all our prayesr for new vocations for our Church and hope that many seeds will have been planted during this WYD
We are now in Madrid and I hope to meet Anna who will join in our group.
Tell you more about this evening

Saturday 13 August
Day 3

Salamanca: Natalia writes: Today is our last day in Salamanca, by now we feel confident enough to say "Hola" every-time that we cross with another WYD group from a different country and to scream: "PATATAS" (potatoes) everytime someone is going to take a picture of us.     The atmosphere is great, everybody is very friendly and positive; our 120 pilgrims from Westminster have already started to learn each others' names and we all feel like a big family.
Today's Catachesis was lead by Sr Paula and one of the things that stick on my mind and I would like to share with you today is: "Expect the unexpected" and let the Lord knock to your door"    She suggested to sign a blank paper with the word: YES as a way to say to God that we agree with whatever plan He has for us in our life.       So, even if you are not with us in WYD, listen to what the Lord has repared for you.      Hasta Mañana

Friday 12 August
Day 2

Today we had an amazing day: we started with morning prayer at the chapel of Colegio Mayor Ana Moga then Catachesis all together and then in groups and afterwards a beautiful adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a magnificent XII century Church. We broke the day with a nice improvised picnic with part of the group and after a shower of rain we continued with a tour of Salamanca where we visited both the new and then the old Cathedral, which is the tallest in Spain. We finish the tour with a visit and welcome by the people of the town hall.
We finished the day with a lovely Mass in another beautiful Church in Salamanca where some participated in the choir. We are just returning to the hotel after great tapas and ready to sleep to keep enjoying tomorrow.

Thursday 11 August
Day 1

We left London at 6.55am; many of us woke up at 3am to get in time to the airports, we arrived in Porto Portugal to take a 4 hours coach trip to Salamanca; everybody was very tired but the trip was worth it. Salamanca is beautiful Need to leave to meet the rest of the group for morning prayer. PS: Jeffrey has not been seen this morning yet but maybe he exchanged breakfast for a cigarette

Click here to go to the
Westmionster Diocese Group Blog from Madrid

Click here to go to the
World Youth Day 2011 WebSite




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