National Catholic Register

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PILGRIMS’ PROGRESS

BY The Editors

July 20-26, 2008 Issue | Posted 7/15/08 at 11:06 AM

 

I encountered my first World Youth Day pilgrims at the St. Paul-Minneapolis Airport. We were all headed to Los Angeles for a connecting flight to Sydney, Australia. One journalist, whose ticket is being paid for by Register sponsors, was with 17 young men and women who have conducted car washes, a raffle, sold used bikes, bagged groceries for tips, and sold pastries after Mass to raise the money to fly around the world. Los Angeles was awash in colorful T-shirts emblazoned with country names. A group of six Puerto Ricans sang hymns at the gate. When flights to Sydney were delayed 18 hours, it didn’t seem to faze the pilgrims. They prayed the Rosary and a priest converted an airplane ticket counter into a makeshift altar and offered Mass. Once in Sydney, I met 33 pilgrims who have had a much tougher time getting here, though they come from much nearer by. They were from Myanmar, and they said the main issues they faced were freedom of religion, and lack of food, clothing and education. World Youth Day helps you count your blessings. Tim Drake is blogging daily from Sydney at the Register’s website Pope2008.com