by Jay Soldner
Special to The Leaven
Caitlin Schneider, youth minister at Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Wea, spoke with The Leaven about her World Youth Day journey.
Q: Why did you go to World Youth Day?
A: One of our students had the idea to go to World Youth Day because I am youth ministry coordinator at the parish. I want my students to have chances to encounter Christ and to be witnesses to their peers of the Gospel. When I threw it out as an idea to everybody else in our youth group, there was a lot of excitement around it. So I wanted to get to go with the teens from our parish.
Q: How many of you guys came?
A: Three high school students and Roxanne, Sydney’s mom, and me. So five total from our group.
Q: Can you tell me about a time on the trip when a person’s kindness made a difference for you?
A: The first one that comes to mind is when we first arrived to the parish in Lisbon. The kindness of the volunteers, and specifically one volunteer took 20 minutes to talk to me. We had an English conversation. Just telling me a little more about herself.
Q: Is it too early to name a highlight of the trip for you?
A: One of the highlights would have been the procession of light in Fátima. I thought it was beautiful in particular, a beautiful witness of love for Our Lady, but also it impacted my students a lot. It was cool to share that with them and get to be part of that cool experience of prayer together.
Q: How did you sleep and where did you sleep?
A: I slept on the floor of a school. I slept about as you might expect you would sleep on the floor of a school that is not air conditioned.
Q: If you could replay your favorite memories from Portugal, what would they be?
A: That’s a good question. Some of my favorite memories are just laughing and all the times sharing meals together with each other and sharing funny moments. That Mass in Fátima, I would replay that one for sure. And just walking through the town where the children live — I would go back to that memory. It’s a good reflection on these are people who really did it, they became saints, and how we can imitate them.
Q: How was the trip different than you might have imagined going in?
A: I could not have imagined what it would be like to be packed into one place with so many people. I think that’s the big difference is that was more challenging than I could have expected. How do you navigate going through all these crazy almost like a cattle shoot with millions of people trying to go somewhere? And the collision of different cultures and the different ways people go about things is a cool experience, but I didn’t imagine that it would be so obvious that we were not all from the same place.
Q: What is a pilgrim?
A: Generic definition of pilgrim is one on a journey to a specific destination. And within the context of the Christian life, a person making a pilgrimage would be one engaging in our pilgrimage to heaven and setting aside time to recall that that’s our reality, is that this is not home and we’re on a journey to our eternal home.
To view the album of photos from the pilgrimage, click here.