by Jay Soldner
Special to The Leaven
The Leaven’s Jay Soldner talked with a few archdiocesan pilgrims about their World Youth Day experience. Here’s what he found out from Brennan Johnston of Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish, Overland Park.
Q. Can you tell me about a time on the trip when a person’s kindness made a difference for you?
A. We had a little bit of dehydration sickness going on. Joanne was one of the chaperones and a nurse, and she helped take care of a lot of people and made sure that everybody was hydrated and made sure that everybody got to enjoy the experience to the fullest.
Q. What was the biggest challenge for you personally?
A. For me personally, it was probably the amount of walking and traveling that we had to do. I ended up with some pretty gnarly blisters on my feet, and just having to keep going day after day was a little rough.
Q. Is it too early to name a highlight of the trip?
A. I absolutely loved the [prayer] vigil, being able to camp out under the sky with 1.5 million people.
Q. How did you sleep?
A. I actually slept pretty well. We got those little ground mats that inflate. And the gym floor didn’t bother me at all.
Q. If you could replay your favorite memories from Portugal, what would they be?
A. Fátima’s pretty high up there. Being able to see that and see the holy sites of the children of Fátima and be in the place where it all happened was really awesome.
Q. How was the trip different than you imagined going in?
A. I didn’t really have any expectations coming in, but it was definitely more [of a] commute than I thought it would be.
Q. Going in, you were open to the idea that everything might not go as planned?
A. Very open.
Q. How did that go?
A. There were definitely things that did not go as planned. You’ve got to roll with the punches. My philosophy was this is a pilgrimage. It’s not just a vacation where you get to go do everything awesome. Some things are going to suck, but if you embrace the suck then it will suck less, and you can really en-joy what God is doing in your life.
Q. What is a pilgrim nowadays?
A. To me, a pilgrim is somebody who is on a simple journey to a place where they can encounter God.
To view the album of photos from the pilgrimage, click here.