Rolling With Deaf Catholics and Unpacking WYD Rio

07/30/2013 Comments (1)
Justin Bell

Father Shawn Carey signing ‘I love you’ to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio.

– Justin Bell

The deaf can converse through windows, across dining rooms and airplane aisles without speaking a word. Rather, those who know American Sign Language (ASL) or another signing language can do the same. A handy skill set to have in noisy places such as WYD Rio.

This World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro I have been rolling with the Deaf Apostolate, which is an outreach of the Archdiocese of Boston. Our group included deaf adults and youth, hearing interpreters and friends/family of the deaf. Most of us were from the Boston area, but we also had two Canadians, three Californians and a member each from Maryland and Michigan.

My role was to be the group’s documentarian through still images and...READ MORE

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A World Youth Day — and a Pope — of Surprises

07/29/2013 Comments (16)

Final preparations for the WYD2013 closing papal Mass.


The sun rose over Copacabana beach Sunday morning, and 3 million young people assembled along the water’s edge. They were preparing for the closing Mass of World Youth Day 2013 with Pope Francis.

Most of those 3 million pilgrims had spent the night on the beach. The previous night they’d shared in Eucharistic adoration and Benediction with Pope Francis. The vigil lasted well into the night.

Pope Francis continued his relentless schedule by traveling along Atlantic Avenue in the popemobile, kissing babies and greeting the multitude. He even hopped out of the popemobile a few times to visit with some young people. The security detail must be getting used to his...READ MORE

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5 Wise Words from Pope to Youth

07/28/2013 Comments (11)
Bruno Arena

Pope Francis passing in front of the media center at Copacabana beach before the closing Mass of World Youth Day July 28.

– Bruno Arena

Today Pope Francis gave five addresses in less than 10 hours.  In his final day in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, he did not disappoint.  He is known for his crisp, clear and emphatic words, spoken in down-to-earth language (sometimes even making new words, but that’s a story for another day).

What follows are the words he spoke to the youth of the world today, often shouting them out and using his hands to make his point. The youth responded with equal emotion. But these words aren’t solely for the young. They are for all of us. Let’s take them to heart! And pass them along. 

  • “Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! … Careful, though! Jesus did not say: ‘If you...READ MORE

Filed under #jmj, #wyd, brazil, pope francis, rio 2013, world youth day

WYD is International, Transforming, and Challenging

07/28/2013 Comments (1)

I’ve had the honor this week of speaking with and learning about the role of Catholicism in the lives of WYD volunteers and pilgrims from all over the world. Although these individuals and groups can’t have the novels they deserve, I’ve included a little bit about who they are, where they’re from, some goals for the week, and something that makes them unique.

Lorenzo Cannon, 21, from Philadelphia, PA, is attending World Youth Day for the first time in 2013. Though his relatives and friends have attended previous WYDs, Lorenzo was called this summer to join a group of 20 other Philadelphia pilgrims from around the archdiocese. “I decided it was my time,” he said. “I’m on a journey to...READ MORE

Filed under #jmj, #wyd, brazil, pope francis, rio 2013, world youth day

A Pilgrimage to Simplicity, Joy and Courage

07/27/2013 Comments (1)
Jeanette De Melo

Stephen Brady and his fellow Irish pilgrims walk down the beach toward the vigil with Pope Francis July 27.

– Jeanette De Melo

A pilgrimage is never about our own plans.

A few days ago WYD Witnesses blogger Justin Bell noted that WYD Rio is about going with the flow.  And that’s been totally true both on a personal level, but also event-wide during this week of World Youth Day.

Due to the rainy weather earlier in the week, the World Youth Day vigil is being held at Copacabana beach rather than Campus Fidei (Field of Faith), a large airfield outside of the city.  The people of the Guarabita area of Rio de Janeiro, where the event was to be held, were devastated so were the organizers who spent two years planning and creating a beautiful setting to host the Holy Father. Father John Paul Zeller met one of the...READ MORE

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Way of the Cross, A Most Intense Moment, says Pope.

07/27/2013 Comments (7)
Jeanette De Melo

Representatives from every continent carry WYD cross, given to the youth of the world by Pope John Paul II in 1984, along the Way of the Cross at Copacabana beach July 26.

– Jeanette De Melo

Pope Francis celebrated the Way of the Cross last night at Copacobana beach with more than a million people.

During his address after the 14th station, the pope called the Way of the Cross “one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day” and he invited participants to “bring to Christ’s Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures.”

During the dramatic re-enactment of the passion of Christ, the WYD Cross was carried by representatives from each of the five continents to 14 stations set up along a mile stretch of Rio’s Atlantic Avenue next to the beach.

Pilgrims lined the street near each station, where they had waited for hours for Pope Francis to pass by at the start of the...READ MORE

Filed under #jmj, #wyd, pope francis, rio 2013, way of the cross, world youth day, wyd rio

Enjoying Food for Body and Soul in Rio

07/26/2013 Comments (4)

Bishop Conley enjoys lunch with WYD pilgrims.

– Provided

It has been a rainy few days since my last blog entry, but the sun has come out on Friday in Rio, and it looks like more sun is in the forecast for the weekend. Thank you for your prayers!

The drizzling rain on Thursday, however, didn’t put a damper on the welcoming celebration for Pope Francis. His arrival at Copacabana beach late Thursday afternoon was telecast on the jumbotrons as over 1 million young people gathered on the beach to welcome the Successor of St. Peter.

He landed by helicopter onto the old Copacabana fortress in the bay and traveled via the popemobile along the road by the beach.

While music and dance filled the stage, everyone’s eyes were fixed on the big screens...READ MORE

Filed under #jmj, #wyd, pope francis, rio 2013, world youth day

WYD Is About Going With the Flow

07/25/2013 Comments (1)
Justin Bell

– Justin Bell

WYD is all about going with the flow. I don’t mean going with what the popular culture says we should do, swaying to the winds of what’s cool. Going with the flow here in Rio de Janeiro means being flexible, being fluid to the plans of one’s group and adjusting to the currents of an event that seeks to bring 2 million-plus people together at Mass with the first South- American Pope coming back home.

In the U.S., we travel at a fast clip, jamming activity into our days with little ritual rewards embedded in between: our special coffee, a DVD from Red Box, etc. I think part of the reason is the efficiency of servicing our routines. In Boston, you can’t give directions using Dunkin' Donuts...READ MORE

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About WYD Witnesses

WYD Witnesses
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The Register's coverage in at World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil includes blog entries from a variety of pilgrims--from regular Register correspondents and staff to seasoned filmmakers to a priest and bishop leading their flock.

WYD Witnesses bloggers include:
Bishop James Conley, Bishop of Lincoln, Neb., who is a veteran at WYD, having attended in Denver, Paris, Rome, Sydney, and Madrid.
Father Matthew Gamber, S.J., theology teacher at Jesuit High in Tampa, Fla. Leading a group with 52 students and teachers from Jesuit to WYD Rio.
Tim Watkins, the director of the documentary film The Blood & The Rose, and president/CEO of Renegade Communications headquartered in Hunt Valley, Md.
Chris Kudialis, a Register correspondent, who lives in Detroit and whose work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Raleigh News & Observer, and Mundo Cristianois, the last of which featured coverage of 2011 WYD in Madrid, Spain.
Justin Bell, a Register correspondent, who lives in Boston and at WYD is embedded in a national group of about 20 deaf participants and leaders, along with hearing interpreters, who are traveling with more than 100 from the Boston archdiocese.
Jeanette De Melo, the Register’s editor in chief, who resides in Denver and who covered WYD Toronto in 2002. She's traveling with EWTN's television and radio crew.