by Jack Figge
Special to The Leaven
Father Luke Doyle raised the host.
No bells rang in the simple chapel, but an announcement for the last call on an American Airlines flight to Spain did come across the loudspeaker at that moment.
Forty pilgrims were packed into the Our Lady of the Skies Chapel at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport for Mass.
The announcement did not phase them as they prayed for safe travels to Lisbon, Portugal, where they would join more than 300,000 travelers from across the globe for World Youth Day.
Already, the group was making international connections.
They met Margrida Prieto, a native of Lisbon, traveling home to volunteer.
“It has been crazy,” said Prieto. “At first, I thought we were unprepared as our country is so small, millions of people are coming, it will be a mess.
“But no, it is very calm, and we are prepared.
“Even if we are feeling that we are not ready, God fixes it all.”
While Lisbon prepared for years to host the weeklong gathering, Father Doyle, associate pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, sought to prepare the pilgrims during his homily.
“God loves us in a beautiful, reckless way,” he said, “and he invites us to receive that love. And in order to do that, we must be willing to live free from fear, be people that give rather than take, and to use suffering to glorify God.
“We will have a really cool opportunity to be with millions of people who came to Lisbon for this gathering, but every single one of them has a unique, unrepeatable story that we are called to love.”
The pilgrims from northeast Kansas were eagerly anticipating the days ahead.
“I am so excited for all the experiences of going to Mass at different places every day, seeing all the people and being in a new environment,” said Elizabeth Ginzel of Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka.
“I wanted the experience of doing this,” she added, “but to really see that there are millions of Catholics from across the world will be so cool!”
To view the full album of photos from World Youth Day, click here.