"I was very happy that at the meeting I was able to greet the group of 24 young people from the Pacific island nation of Kiribati led by Przemyslaw Kasprzak, one of our Boston seminarians who has been working there for about a year.'' Pilot photo/Cardinalseansblog.org
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As I mentioned last week, I had been giving different catechesis for participants at World Youth Day in Poland, and on Friday we had the last of these in Wadowice.
The catechesis was held outdoors in the plaza, which was filled with young people from throughout the world, including our youth from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.
The plaza is just outside the church where Pope John Paul II was baptized, received his first Communion and was confirmed.
Right next to the church is his childhood home. His family had an apartment on the second story of a building that belonged to a Jewish merchant. On the first floor was the store, and they lived in a three-room apartment above it. That whole building has now been turned into a museum, which is very well done. There are a number of interactive exhibits and articles from his life and upbringing.
I was particularly struck by a wall with letters from all over the world attesting to his sanctity sent in during the process of canonization.
As I say, the apartment is just next door to the church. They say that when Karol Wojtyla's mother was giving birth in that apartment, she could hear the people in church chanting the Litany of Loreto. They were so close.
It reminded me of my own upbringing, because when I was a child, we lived very close to our church as well. Our priest used to knock on our door at 6 o'clock in the morning when they needed altar boys, so that my brother and I could go serve the Mass. There is something special about living close to your parish church.
Vigil before World Youth Day
Shortly after the Mass we left to attend the evening vigil with the Holy Father at Campus Misericordiae. It was a beautiful evening, the weather was perfect.
I was very impressed to see the huge Door of Mercy they had set up in the middle of the field.
The vigil began with a number of musical performances and testimonies, and in his address, the Holy Father made very poignant references to some of those testimonies. Among them, was the testimony of a young woman from Aleppo, Syria, who talked about the situation in her country. There was also a man from Paraguay who had been involved in drugs and was rescued from that life with the help of a church organization.
Following those testimonies, the Holy Father gave a very animated address in which he challenged the young people not to become "couch potatoes" or to take early retirement, but to be involved in changing the world by changing their own hearts. His remarks were met by a very enthusiastic response from the crowd.
The event concluded with Eucharistic adoration. The tabernacle was just beautiful and when the doors opened they exposed the Blessed Sacrament.
The next morning, of course, was the Mass in the same place.
Sunday was a very hot and sunny day.
They estimate there were about 1.5 million people present for the Mass.
Meeting with Kiko
Monday afternoon, I attended a meeting of about 150,000 young people of the Neocatechumenal Way with their founder Kiko Arguello.
During the meeting, there was an altar call for vocations. It's always very moving because literally thousands of young men, women and families come forward answering the call for vocations or to go on mission.
I was very happy that at the meeting I was able to greet the group of 24 young people from the Pacific island nation of Kiribati led by Przemyslaw Kasprzak, one of our Boston seminarians who has been working there for about a year. They were helped to attend World Youth Day through our Boston office of the Propagation of the Faith.