Slide Show: Embarking on Pilgrimage, WYD 2011

by: Antonina Zielinska

After a six-hour overnight flight, with little to no sleep and no breakfast because of turbulance, the second group of World Youth Day pilgrims from the Diocese of Brooklyn arrived in Madrid Aug. 13, exhausted but ready to to begin their spiritual journey.

When the pilgrims were finally allowed out of the airport, they were taken on a bus tour of the city, where they learned about the city that was established in the ninth century.

“The flight was long but it’s amazing that we are here in Spain,” said pilgrim Colin Muir from St. Thomas Aquinas parish, Flatlands. “I think I will have a lot of fun and won’t want to leave.  I guess I’ll have to make new friends and and keep in touch with them on Facebook.”

The resilience of the pilgrims is what Father Kevin Abels, diocesan director of vocations, said will make this pilgrimage succesfull.

“The people back in the Diocese of Brooklyn need to hold on  to their seats because when these young people come home, they will transform all the people of the diocese,” he said.

Pilgrim Monica Suarez, from Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jamaica, said she is already experiencing a change.

“I have this enourmous amount of energy I have never had in my life,” she said.

After what already was a long day, the pilgrims walked the streets of Madrid praying the Rosary at 6 p.m. They met  with all the diocesan pilgrims that have arrived in Spain for a Mass with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano.

“Welcome to Madrid,” Bishop DiMarzio said as the pilgrims cheered. “We start this pilgrimage in earnest.”

Twelve Brooklyn priests celebrated Mass together in a local Madrid parish, San Antonio del Retiro. Brothers James and John Behan of St. Thomas Aquinas, played travel guitars to songs, including “Here I Am Lord,” “Open My Eyes,” and “Immaculate Mary.”  The pilgrims sang along and intently listened to the readings and the homily.

During the homily, the bishop said, “Most people don’t want to be considered children. But we are all His children. We must trust in Him as we trust in our parents.

“If a baby could talk I imagine he or she would say ‘Feed me, protect me, don’t drop me. Isn’t that what we ask of God.”

Pilgrim Bryant Ibarra, from Presentation of the Blessed Virgin May, Jamaica, said the homily changed the way he thought about God?

“We should think he is our dad, just like our earthly father,” he said.