As The Tablet goes to press this week, Pope Francis is marking his second day in Rio de Janeiro where he has traveled for World Youth Day.
The Brooklyn Diocese has sent more than 200 young people to the international gathering, making it the largest total from any diocese in the U.S. and third among all, trailing only Brazil and Argentina.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is leading the local group. He is joined there by Auxiliary Bishops Frank Caggiano and Octavio Cisneros, which emphasizes that youth ministry is a priority for the bishop and WYD is one of the major spiritual and social functions on the calendar.
At Kennedy Airport last Sunday evening, there were 125 young people preparing to leave on a direct flight to Rio aboard TAM Airways. That number included at least six priests and other adult chaperones. Other groups were leaving from LaGuardia Airport. They were flying first to Charlotte, N.C., and then laying over for three hours before heading to Rio. The pilgrimage was under the direction of Regina Tours and the local guidance of Father Gerard Sauer, pastor of St. Mel’s, Flushing, who doubles as the diocesan pilgrimage director.
Of course, The Tablet and NET-TV have sent along correspondents, and they have been reporting back all week long on NET’s live broadcasts of WYD as well as Currents continuing coverage of how our own young people are participating in WYD events. Several specials are also planned for the fall.
Tablet reporter Antonina Zielinska, who covered World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011, is our eyes and ears on the ground. Her first reports can be found in this week’s centerfold and Youth Page and will continue in next week’s edition as well as on our website, www.thetablet.org.
This is a major commitment from DeSales Media Group, our parent company, and serves as an assurance that our goal here is to be the major source of evangelization and communication of the Good News in the diocese.
There is great interest in this year’s WYD because of the presence of the popular new Pope Francis. His first day in Rio was newsworthy as he was warmly embraced (almost literally) by the crowds waiting to greet him in downtown Rio. In what had to be security nightmare for papal bodyguards and local police, the pope’s car was stopped several times by the crowds trying to touch him.
This is all part of Pope Francis’ desire to be close to the People of God and to promote as simple a lifestyle as possible. Whether or not, he will be able to achieve that lofty goal will depend a lot on the success of his first international pilgrimage.