WYD: Experiencing the church as a worldwide family

By Emma Luigard
One in a series

LOURDES, France — It has been five days since we arrived in Lisbon. Since then we’ve visited Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and Burgos, spanning a total of two countries and are in transit to visit our third, France.

In each city we’ve encounter multiple groups of other pilgrims from a wide range of countries. So far we’ve met pilgrims from Australia, Korea, Lebanon, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Poland and other groups from the U.S.A. Every encounter begins with face-splitting grins and frantic waves from both sides, followed by the signature question, “Where are you from?” Pictures are then taken and items exchanged — in one case a Canadian flag pin for a U.S.A. flag. The groups then part ways, but not with “good-bye” but with an enthusiastic “see you next week!” The easy ways between fellow pilgrims is a wonderful display of the church as family around the world.

On Friday we went to Mass, and a group of Polish scouts was also in attendance. The Mass was celebrated in Latin, Spanish and Polish. During the Latin parts of the Mass it was incredible to see everyone singing in unison because Latin is a universal part of Mass. However, what was even more incredible was watching the Polish scout sitting in front of me participate in the Spanish parts of the Mass, not just the Polish parts. But then I realized he wasn’t much different from me. I speak primarily English and bits of Spanish, but I’m traveling with a group of primarily Spanish speakers who only speak English to make sure I’m not left out. Just seeing him in a similar position as myself made me realize that even though we may not understand each other’s spoken language we do understand each other’s faith, and that is what brings us together — our love for God.

Emma Luigard, 16, will be a senior at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Md. The member of St. Bernadette Parish, traveling with St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, said she is “excited for World Youth Day because it will be full of cultural and religious experiences.”

Packing ‘light’ for World Youth Day

By Sara Angle
One in a series

HERSHEY, Pa. — Pilgrims attending World Youth Day have been told to pack light, so what exactly does that mean when you are taking a week long trip to a foreign country? Well, I thought I’d share what I’ll be bringing, for anyone curious. Attending WYD and still haven’t loaded your suitcase? Maybe this will motivate you! I’ve included:

– Cotton shirts and lightweight cotton skirts (church-appropriate with shoulders covered and skirts at the knee).
— Breezy cotton dresses to beat the heat.
— Some gym clothes so I can get in a nice run (perfect way to see a new city!)
— Cotton PJs.
— Plenty of socks.
— Three pairs of closed-toe shoes (with so many people, feet are bound to get stepped on).
— One pair of sandals (let those piggly-wigglies breathe!)
— One bathing suit (you never know).
— One hat to keep the sun off my face.
— Umbrella and poncho. (I’m a Girl Scout, be prepared!)
— Belts and scarves to dress up anything I decide to re-wear.
— A yoga mat for sleeping outside with the other pilgrims on the final night (too hot for a sleeping bag).

WYD_packing

Pilgrims were told to pack light!

Not pictured:

– Lots of underwear! Of course.
— Two bottles of sunscreen.
— Dry shampoo for in-between hair days.
— Madrid guidebook.
— Hand sanitizer and toilet paper (you’d be surprised how many European bathrooms leave out the essentials).
— Reusable water bottle.
— Basic over-the-counter medications (because its a pain to read labels in another language if you are sick!)
— Do-it-all soap (good for washing YOU and your laundry in a hotel sink!)

Happy packing and safe travels to all of you headed to WYD! For everyone else, keep your eye out for my adventures. Oh, and I’ll also be bringing a lot of electronics to make sure all our readers are up to date on the latest happenings at WYD!


Sara Angle, 21, is a senior at Villanova University and has written for CNS from Rome and Washington. She enjoys traveling and soaking up the culture of her surroundings, be it through food, fashion or faith, and looks forward to covering WYD for CNS — from the big events to the off-beat adventures. Sara loves reading and writing (but not arithmetic) and dancing like no one is watching. You can also follow her on Twitter @CatholicNewsSvc. She’ll be using the hashtag #SaraInMadrid.

Humility for WYD pilgrims at Lourdes

By Emily Anderson
One in a series

LOURDES, France — Yesterday, we visited Lourdes to see the grotto where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette. Lourdes is, in so many ways, a peaceful and intense place. There are not words to describe what it is like to be in a place where Mary actually appeared!

There are probably a million graces from visiting yesterday, but I just want to talk about one for now. Yesterday we started with the Way of the Cross. This is no joke in Lourdes. It started with us going to the stations up stairs on our knees. It is seriously uphill from there. There were a few times where I thought I was going to literally keel over. If you know me, you know I am not in the best of shape, so this was literally a labor of love for me! The Way of the Cross is not typically prayerful for me, but this time around it was great. I was a sweaty mess, but I actually prayed through it. There is something unifying about hearing the stations in a ton of different languages.

One of the reflections was about Jesus falling for a second time. The reflection spoke about forgiveness for the times our sinfulness caused others to fall! What a thing to walk with and reflect on. How many times has our sinfulness kept others from heaven? Whoa! Think about it! I carried this with me for the day and really thought about the people I have affected with my sinfulness! What a great day. I have a lot more to share about Lourdes, but for now, we are off to the next adventure. Thanks for the prayers!

Emily “Em” Anderson, 28, is the director of youth ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Va. She is excited to be traveling with seven teens and two other adults from her ministry. This is her second World Youth Day, having trekked across the world to Sydney with 10 teens for World Youth Day in 2008. She enjoys laughing, singing at the top of her lungs — rather badly — praying liturgy of the hours and planning her next party.

WYD: Patiently waiting for what God has in store

By Emily Anderson
One in a series

BARCELONA, Spain — After flying across the world to Australia for World Youth Day 2008, a little six-and-a-half-hour flight followed up by another two-hour plane ride is nothing. Still after traveling for almost 18 hours patience wears so thin!

World Youth Day is all about patience, with yourself and one another. I can totally hear the super-patient teen ask me what’s next and all I can say is “waiting.” See, World Youth Day truly is about waiting: waiting for a whole group to be together; waiting for the next thing we are doing; waiting for our Lord at the overnight vigil.

I once heard a man talk about how he waits for no one. But as Catholics, we are called to wait for him who we seek. We are people that wait and my prayer as always is to be someone that waits well. I want to wait well for what the Lord has in store! Hopefully, in small ways these next two weeks, each of us can truly wait well.

Emily “Em” Anderson, 28, is the director of youth ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Va. She is excited to be traveling with seven teens and two other adults from her ministry. This is her second World Youth Day, having trekked across the world to Sydney with 10 teens for World Youth Day in 2008. She enjoys laughing, singing at the top of her lungs — rather badly — praying liturgy of the hours and planning her next party.

World Youth Day: Restlessness and excitement

By Emily Anderson
One in a series

I’ve noticed that the night before any big event, I am typically restless. The restlessness comes from excitement, nerves, a bit of anxiousness and normally from my lack of packing. Tonight is no different. Tomorrow (Sunday) evening, I set off to World Youth Day 2011 with seven teens and two other chaperones from St. James Parish in Falls Church, Va. No amount of prep truly prepares someone for World Youth Day; there’s always an element of surprise, excitement and once again nerves.

One of the greatest gifts I get in my life is to journey with teenagers as they come to know and love Jesus Christ in a real way. World Youth Day is so often the catalyst for this. There’s something that happens (perhaps the Holy Spirit?) when all those young people from all over the world come together and stand in the light of truth. They are the witnesses that the world is so desperately yearning for.

In the midst of a million people, God speaks to each pilgrim and for many teens the things that once seemed to be unreal or unbelievable become both. This is my prayer for World Youth Day, that in the midst of the crazy and the crowds and the nerves and the seemingly endless lines, my teens are captivated by the Lord and the things he’s asking of them and where he is calling them. Speak Lord, your servants are listening.

Emily “Em” Anderson, 28, is the director of youth ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, Va. She is excited to be traveling with seven teens and two other adults from her ministry. This is her second World Youth Day, having trekked across the world to Sydney with 10 teens for World Youth Day in 2008. She enjoys laughing, singing at the top of her lungs — rather badly — praying liturgy of the hours and planning her next party.

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