WYD "Alumni" Giving Back

Participants in Days in the Diocese Learning to Cook, Pray

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By Nieves San Martin

MADRID, Spain, AUG. 16, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Patricia and Jorge welcomed World Youth Day participants from California to their home in Guadalajara, Spain, this week. The two of them were themselves World Youth Day-ers a decade ago in Rome, and now they want to give back.

«We took part in Rome’s 2000 WYD and we spent the Days in the Dioceses with a family of Imola. WYD is an opportunity to give back what we received 10 years ago,» they explained.

The stories of the 130,000 youth who participated in the pre-WYD events vary from place to place. They came from 137 countries and were welcomed in 65 dioceses.

Many visited shrines, such as French pilgrims received in the Diocese of Oviedo, who went to see Our Lady of Covadonga. An Italian delegation also visited this Marian shrine and one to Santiago of Compostela.

In addition to tasting tapas, pilgrims from Tanzania, the Philippines, India and Canada took part in a Via Crucis organized by young people of Fresno del Viejo.

Those from countries in difficult financial situations are guaranteed cost-free status. Some 230 Haitians arrived in Ciudad Real, a fraction of the 2,000 pilgrims welcomed in the Diocese of La Mancha.

The youth enjoyed typical dishes of the area, dancing and choir performances.

Avila welcomed pilgrims to its great spiritual richness centered on St. Teresa. There they had a spiritual retreat and enjoyed a light and music event from atop the city wall.

The Diocese of Burgos welcomed more than 2,000 pilgrims from 18 countries with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in honor of St. Mary Major, the city’s patroness.

Presided over by the archbishop, the Eucharist was concelebrated by six bishops and more than 200 priests.

«To know Burgos’ spiritual richness through its most representative saints,» was the object of the prayer vigil in this land of saints, in which close to 3,000 people participated.

In the Benedictine abbey of St. Dominic of Silos, young people went out on the streets as far as the city’s gate.

Participants learned of the life of St. Rafael Arnáiz, Burgos’ youngest saint and patron of WYD.

Iraqi seminarians in Cordoba

In Cordoba, on the feast of the Assumption, Bishop Demetrio Fernández González presided over an international celebration with thousands of young people.

«In the forthcoming days, during WYD in Madrid, may you meet Mary, may you meet Jesus. May God give you the grace to believe that, with his help, victory is possible. That victory that today we see effected in Mary, assumed body and soul to the heavens,» said the bishop in his homily.

Bishop Fernández welcomed bishops and seminarians of the Diocese of Mosul, Iraq.

«We are in the presence of a Church that is persecuted. They are witnesses of the Christian faith,» the bishop said of the Iraqi pilgrims.

The 18 seminarians of the St. Ephrem Seminary of Mosul, together with Archbishop Youhanna Boutros Moshe, and retired Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, met with Bishop Fernández in the episcopal palace.

Some 40 Australians arrived in Pedro Abad, welcomed in the church of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart, and hosted by families and in the nuns’ residence.

The parish of St. Sebastian in Anora received a South Korean group. After breakfast and rest in the homes of host families, they went touring and then had a course in traditional Spanish cooking.

«I have seen young people arrive early and homes and hearts opening generously,» said a priest from Seville. «I have seen young people weep in the confessional speaking of their vocation, in adoration from 5 in the afternoon  … broken and tired before the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and all with the joy of having Christ before them.

«I have seen God walking through Camas, openly, with clarity, reaching the Square that these days has honored his name: the triumph.

«I have seen you thinking, praying, silent and listening … and in the midst of it all, the ever forthright question: And we, what must we do?»

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