With joyous song, dance and prayer, nearly 500 members of the Jornada Movement came together as one to share the mercy of God during their annual Caminata on March 26. The young people spent hours on the morning of Holy Saturday walking, praying the rosary and bearing witness to their faith in the streets of Queens.
“Caminata is our way of showing people that Catholicism is alive in the youth of today,” said Efrain “Frito” Torres, a delegate of mission and member of the movement’s equipo base. “What better way to evangelize than young people praising God.”
Melanie Feliciano, the movement’s vice president, recalled her awe at her first Caminata when she was 13 years old. She was impressed at how hundreds of Jornadistas came together in an act of faith and sacrifice on Holy Saturday to bring the message of Christ to the streets.
This year’s slogan was “Let us fall into the hand of God, for His mercy is great” (2 Samuel 24:14). The theme of mercy and love as God’s gifts exuded from the young people as they walked for 5 miles while visiting churches in the area.
Before they started the Caminata at Immaculate Conception Church, Jamaica, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio encouraged the youth to reflect on God’s mercy in their pilgrimage to one of the diocese’s Holy Doors at the Shrine Church of St. Gerard Majella in Hollis – one of the stops on the Caminata’s route.
This year, through their joyous witness, the youth evangelized while journeying through the streets of Jamaica, Queens Village and Hollis. Children and adults, including Msgr. Perfecto Vazquez joined the walk.
Incarnation Church was the second stop of the Caminata, where the second decade of the rosary was offered for an increase in vocations.
New Jornadista Tatiana Elzate, parishioner from Blessed Sacrament in Cypress Hills, was excited to live her first Caminata. That afternoon, she said that the long walk was worth being tired because it helped her reflect on the mystery of the Resurrection, so she does not take it for granted.
Alexandro Morales, of Holy Spirit church in Borough Park, said that every year the Caminata wakes up his spirit in time to live the joy of Easter.
Rubia Rodriguez and Hiliana Arroyo, from Our Lady of Sorrows in Manhattan*, said the Caminata is always an amazing experience to be with other teenagers who believe in God and to share His love and mercy with others.
“You feel God all around us, through everyone,” Rodriguez said. “(People on the street) smile. We tell them ‘God bless you’ and there is a lot of people who have not heard that in a while. That is why we are here.”
This year’s Caminata was impactful because there were more people on the streets, leaders said.
“As we walk around the streets, we tell the people of God that God is not death, that Christ is alive and that His Church is vibrant,” said Father James Kuroly, the movement’s spiritual director.
The traditional Holy Saturday walk was started around 30 years ago by Rudy Vargas and other leaders of the movement.
The Movimiento de Jornadas de Vida Cristiana, which translates to Journeys of Christian-Life Movement, brings together youth from parishes in Queens and Brooklyn, as well as Manhattan, Long Island and the Bronx. For more information on the movement and other events, go to jornadista.org.
Photos © Maria-Pia Negro Chin