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BY The Editors
Pilgrims came from all across the
globe to Sydney for World Youth Day. Here are a few of their stories.
Tujai Maru, 26, from the northern part of
Maru was one of a group of 33
pilgrims, three nuns, and six priests from the country of Myanmar. He knew
little English, but desired to express on behalf of the group why they came to
World Youth Day. “We wanted to see the Pope,” said Maru. “We also wanted to see
what the other youth of the world are doing and be here with them.”
Carlie Frye, 25, Fresno, Calif.:
A high school religion teacher, Frye
said that World Youth Day in Sydney was her first World Youth Day. Not even an
18-hour plane delay could deter her enthusiasm for the event.
“I want to be aware of the climate
of the youth of the world,” Frye said. She sees the event as a kind of personal
and professional retreat. She said that she wasn’t in touch with her faith and
previous international World Youth Day gatherings until she became a religion
teacher three years ago.
“I pray for greater courage to be a
witness,” she said after participating in a public Mass at an airline ticketing
counter after her flight was delayed. “It was surprisingly easy.”
She hopes to pass along what she
experiences to her students.
“I hope to bottle up the energy from
WYD and take it back for my students,” she said. “It will be neat to be buoyed
up by the camaraderie of so many other Catholics.”
Father Vinod George, priest of the
Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago:
Father George led a group of 20
children of Indian immigrants. This is his first World Youth Day. He hopes to
use the event as a way to reach out to youth in his new capacity in youth
“I want to learn how the youth
perceive the world,” said Father George. “Growing up in American culture, they
experience a lot of tension.”
Sunil K. Nadarajan, Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago:
A Hindu convert to the Catholic
faith, Nadarajan attended World Youth Day in both Toronto, Ontario, and
Cologne, Germany. He said that he came to the Catholic Church through the
tradition of the sacraments, prayer and Eucharistic adoration. In Toronto, he
brought a group of nearly 80 Indian youth.
“The Indian youth are experiencing
an identity crisis,” said Nadarajan. “American culture doesn’t emphasize family
in the same way that India does.”
Nadarajan said that the youth had a
wonderful experience of faith at World Youth Day in Toronto.
“Their hearts were throbbing for
Jesus,” he said. “The beauty of seeing people from all the different countries
and languages participating, it was like each person experienced a conversion.
They were able to say, ‘I’m not a minority,’ and they came back.”
Because of that experience, he
continues to bring young people to World Youth Day.
Emma Garrick, 22, and Brendan Garrick,
17, Wellington, New Zealand:
Parishioners at St. Patrick’s in
Wainuiomata, siblings Emma and Brendan are two of 4,000 New Zealand pilgrims
participating in World Youth Day 2008. Emma said that she wanted to come so
that it could “speak to my faith and I could see other Catholics. There aren’t
that many Catholic youth in my parish.”
Brendan hoped that the event would
help him discover what it means to be Christian. “The different perspective of
all the youth from around the world will give me a new light on my faith,”
Brendan said. They both looked forward to the Saturday evening vigil and final
Mass at Randwick Racecourse.
Said Emma, “Being with all those
Catholic youths … I can’t comprehend what it will be like.”
BY The Editors
Months ago, when we planned to go all out for the U.S. papal
visit and World Youth Day, we dubbed our coverage “The World Meets Benedict.”
But before long, that started to seem a little presumptuous. After all, the
Pope himself dubbed his visit “Christ Our Hope.”
As we launched Pope2008.com, our blogsite covering the papal
events; as we put together stories for the Register; as we planned features for
our sister publication, Faith & Family magazine, as our own Circle Press
published the book Benedict of Bavaria; one thing became very clear: The world
already knew Pope Benedict XVI.
After all, he had been Pope since 2005 — nearly the
equivalent of a full presidential term. Before that he headed the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith for decades. We already knew that the old canards
about him weren’t true. He was caricatured as a stern figure hurling anathemas.
That wasn’t him.
We already knew him, from his first encyclical, as a deep
thinker about love, and, from his next, as the “Pope of hope.” We already knew
him as the brave Christian witness who traveled to Istanbul in the wake of
Muslim fundamentalist riots. And we already knew him as a lover of the liturgy
who wanted nothing more than to deepen Catholics’ worship.
But there were some things we didn’t know. We had to see him
for ourselves, in our churches and on our streets, to learn them.
We didn’t know that he had a profound pastoral touch. As we
followed the Holy Father around Washington and New York, we kept finding people
who were moved by their encounters with the Pope. He would lock eyes with them,
touch them gently, and communicate peace wordlessly.
We also didn’t know that Benedict’s deep concern for the
victims of abuse was such that he would want to make it the centerpiece of his
visit. He mentioned it in formal remarks at least six times on his trip, and
his visit with victims of abuse — a seventh instance of the theme — caught
almost everyone off guard.
We also didn’t know Benedict’s immense, “John Pauline” optimism.
The previous Pope spoke of great things to come. He promoted the New
Evangelization, which for him was nothing less than the re-Christianization of
the Western World. He organized the Great Jubilee for the whole Church. He told
us to prepare for the new springtime of the faith.
But Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had predicted a chastened,
smaller church. When he became Pope Benedict, we felt a bit as if our high hopes were a dream we once had, but had outgrown.
We didn’t know Benedict would come to us and revive them
all, calling us once again to the New Evangelization in a “great jubilee” for
America to prepare for the new springtime of the faith.
We also didn’t know how much Benedict loves America, though
we could have known it. It was there to read in more than one interview. But
all of that seemed abstract — until we saw him bound down the airplane stairs,
delighted and eager to be here.
Throughout his stay, one of the most common observations
commentators made was that Benedict was clearly glad to be here. He never
seemed tired in public; the reports of those who witnessed the last event of
each day matched those who witnessed the first: He was a sprightly, alert and
He was very forthright about his feelings for America, also.
When he spoke at the White House, he praised America’s
founding principles. At each of his Masses, he reminded us that the Church’s
presence in America is the result of the Holy Spirit’s efforts. At Yankee
Stadium, he even gave Americans our marching orders: Build the Kingdom of
Christ in the world.
First: Build the Kingdom in business, media, science,
education; everywhere. “Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also
means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its
growth in every sector of society.”
Second: Build the Kingdom first in yourself, through a
passionate love for Christ that looks at the Church supernaturally. “It means
facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory
and a commitment to extending his reign,” he said. “It means not losing heart
in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal.”
Third: Build the Kingdom through an integral, authentic
life, not a compartmentalized one. “It means overcoming every separation
between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness,”
he said. “It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political
life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, ‘there is no human activity
— even in secular affairs — which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion.’”
“The World Meets Benedict” suddenly seems to fit after all.
We did meet Pope Benedict XVI in a new way this year.
But for that meeting to be more than just a touching memory,
we need to take up the Pope’s challenge. We need to do as he says, to make sure
that the world meets someone far, far more compassionate, wise and brave than
Next, the world needs to meet the one his visit was named
for: Christ our hope.