Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 9, 2002
Hesitant to attend, pilgrim's faith deepened
By KENZIE VATERS
I prepared for World Youth Day expecting a week of simple routine and early mornings. I had learned about it from my mom and was in fact, hesitant to "bother" with it. As I thought more and more about going, my excitement grew, After all, this was my first time on an airplane.
It wasn't until arriving in Toronto that I began to grasp the magnitude of what I was about to experience. It brought out in me a part of my faith that I could barely find before, a part that was beginning to take root in a soul that became eager for more.
I loved every moment of every sleepless day and night. The singing, the smiles, the intense joy that was in the hot and sticky air. It was obvious that the citizens of Toronto had resigned themselves to the fact that their fair city had been temporarily taken over by a presence far greater than anyone on earth.
I miss the heat and the humidity, the friendly vibes and the fact that I was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who, like myself, were there to deepen their faith and allow the wisdom of the pope to touch our hearts and bring us closer to Christ.
World Youth Day meant all those people coming together in unity. No matter what indifferences may have existed prior to anyone's arrival, we gathered for the love of Christ and the love of our holy father.
The strength we felt was unimaginable. The love, acceptance, faith, hope, . . . it was beyond amazing. Many lessons were learned as a group and by ourselves. We learned the power of prayer, evangelism and unity. We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world.
As we saw Pope John Paul walk onto the stage with willpower and strength, tears escaped us.
It was easily the most emotional moment of our journey as pilgrims and it was then that we all truly connected. We hugged and cried with people we didn't even know, on more than one occasion.
The Mass and the catechesis was frequently attended by thousands of people and spontaneous prayer was a common occurrence. I'll never forget when our group prayed the rosary on the bus and the rest of the passengers joined in. Not all were pilgrims.
There were far too many highlights to decide which one stands out but undoubtedly Pope John Paul's arrival was incredible. He is a man with strength beyond words, the leader of our Church and the holy father, the embodiment of Christ. No one can adequately speak of his greatness.
As for the question "Would I do it again?" In a split second.