After celebrating Mass with Cardinal Tagle, the diocesan contingent started the walk to Blonia Park to welcome Pope Francis.
The mini-pilgrimage from Tauron Arena took most pilgrim groups three hours. With temperatures higher than other days, the sacrifice of the walk made the anticipation grow.
Raquel Goncalves, 18, from Holy Family, Fresh Meadows, said that the wait felt long because of the rain that started soon after they reached the field.
But when the jumbo screens showed that the pope had started his way to Blonia Park, everybody started clapping, singing and dancing.
Our Lady of the Snows pilgrims, Marie Warren and Nimi Thomas, said that anticipation of the Holy Father’s arrival was very exciting especially given the large number of people who had congregated.
“The happiness and the excitement here is so crazy overwhelming and everybody is just pumped to see the pope,” she said.
“Once the pope came out everyone’s spirits lifted up,” Goncalves said. “They ran to the gate to see a glimpse of him. Everyone wanted to be part of it.”
When Pope Francis said, “Dear young people, we meet at last,” the crowd erupted into applause.
Georges explained that despite the tiredness and soreness of the multiple-mile walks, every pain was replaced by cheerfulness once the pilgrims saw Pope Francis.
Aubrey Pilar, 22, of St. Bartholomew, Elmhurst, said that she felt touched because everyone was united as a Catholic regardless of the flag they carried. The celebration reminded her of the call of Pope Francis to be happy.
In Jesus “is where we could be very happy. You cannot fake it,” she said. “We are at World Youth Day. This is the most exciting pilgrimage on our lives. We can be touched in several different ways.”
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