(We’re excited to have direct coverage of World Youth Day 2013. Please welcome the first post from our correspondant, Kristin, and stay tuned for more. -Ed.)
At some point in our lives, we all take a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We do something crazy. Well, let me tell you what I’m about to do.
I am flying across multiple continents to visit a country I’ve never been to, stay in a city that will be so overcrowded with millions of visitors that a decent bathroom will be hard to find, where I may or may not have a place to sleep each night, and where I really have no idea where (or if) my next meal will happen.
Crazy? Told you so. But I couldn’t be more excited.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kristin and right now I’m headed to something called World Youth Day. I expect you to have a few thoughts running through your head ranging from, “World Youth what?”, “Good luck with that” or even, “Sounds like a fun vacation!”
For those of you who have never heard of this Catholic event, I present a ridiculously short background on World Youth Day in my own words…
Years ago, Blessed John Paul II had an idea. He said, “Let’s invite the Catholic youth of the entire world to Rome and host a huge celebration of our faith.”
All of his Bishop and Priest advisors said, “That’s a nice idea Holy Father- but no one will come.”
But the youth of the world had a different response: “Be there in five,” they said.
The event organizers and the city of Rome prepared and expected a few thousand young people…but they got over a million. The response that the Holy Father received was absolutely overwhelming and amazing.
So, since 1985 the Holy Father (Blessed John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis) participates in a giant festival for millions of young Catholics who come from all ends of the earth. They pilgrimage, they mingle, they do catechesis with bishops and priests, they attend a vigil mass with the Pope, and they experience a joy unrivaled in this whole wide world.
This will be my third time attending World Youth Day. The first was Cologne, Germany, second was Sydney, Australia, and now I’m off to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For those who have attended this celebration it is nearly impossible to describe to those who have not. So when my good friends at CatholicVote asked me to take a few thousand Americans along on my journey all I could say was … absolutely!
Ladies and gentlemen- the Catholic Church is ALIVE.
We are one. We are holy. We are Catholic. And we are apostolic. World Youth Day illustrates this almost perfectly.
It provides one of the greatest reasons of our time to hope.
This is why millions of us are willing to endure sleeping who knows where, eating who knows what, and weather so unpredictable it’s practically impossible to pack appropriately.
I will be doing my best to bring you lovely people with me via photos, videos, and my thoughts. Please be patient and hopefully you’ll get to see a little bit of what’s happening as it happens.
Viva Papa Francisco!