by Jack Figge
Special to The Leaven
Crowds hoarded the fences, pushing and shoving to catch a sight of the main attraction.
No, it wasn’t to see the pope, but the Running of the Bulls.
Once a year, the town of Seixal, Portugal, celebrates a weeklong festival — Festas Populares da Aldeia de Paio Pires. It happened to be the same week the pilgrims were staying at host homes and two schools within the town.
Their hosts invited them to attend the event on Aug. 2.
“It was emotional. It brought a tear to my eye seeing the excitement,” said Henry Block. “It was thrilling. It was captivating to see the bulls running through the streets and people dodging the bull.”
Every 15-30 minutes, a bull or cow is released into the street. Brave souls jump into the enclosed area, testing their agility as they try to dodge and evade the charging cattle.
Baxter Kascarelli, a parishioner at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park, found the event entertaining and exciting.
“Those people jumping in with the bulls were so brave,” said Kascarelli. “They would taunt the bull with a flag. They brought in [a] full leather couch that the bull was just demolishing. It was so cool.”
Volunteers told the pilgrims that they could not jump in, leaving some pilgrims, like Philosophy I seminarian Jarrad Condreay, disappointed.
“Running of the Bulls was awesome,” said Condreay. “I wish I could have been out there running with them.”
While not an official World Youth Day event, let alone one on the group’s itinerary, it provided pilgrims with a unique cultural experience.
“It was a side bonus to World Youth Day,” said Condreay. “The Running of the Bulls is something that you don’t get to see in a lot of other places. It is something I will remember forever.”
To view the full album of photos from World Youth Day, click here.