Local World Youth Day

Despite delays, Fátima, Mass and procession kick off WYD experience

Pilgrims from around the world gather at the Sanctuary of Fátima the evening of July 29 to pray the rosary and participate in a candlelight procession around the square. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Jack Figge
Special to The Leaven

“You are from Kansas!” exclaimed Klemens Muthsam in a thick accent. “Go Chiefs!”

The World Youth Day pilgrims met Muthsam, a pilgrim from Austria, during a prayer service at the Sanctuary of Fátima on July 29.

Pilgrims prayed the rosary, switching languages every half decade. The event concluded with a candlelight procession around the square and the pilgrims chanting the “Salve Regina.”

“Singing the ‘Salve Regina’ with everybody was so powerful,” said McKinzie Horsley, a parishioner of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lansing. “During that moment, I heard God say, ‘You are home.’

“Being surrounded by all these Catholics from all around the world was so beautiful. Even though we had never met, we all shared one faith.”

Seminarians Landry Weber, right, and Zachary McGuinness help pilgrims from Australia light their candles before the candlelight procession and rosary in Fátima the evening of July 29. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann reflected on the theme of a global church when the pilgrims gathered for Mass in the Hotel Avenida. He spoke about that Saturday’s Gospel reading, the story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and the importance of family.

“As we celebrate the feast of these siblings, we give thanks for our families and realize that we are part of a broader family,” said the archbishop. “Not all will go according to plan during these next coming days, but the Lord wants us to encounter him here.”

Deacon Jody Madden and his daughter Emily pray the rosary during a candlelight procession at the Sanctuary of Fátima. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The pilgrims had already experienced wayward plans.

The group that connected through O’Hare Airport in Chicago, including the archbishop, experienced a three-hour delay Friday evening, meaning that only one group of pilgrims had the opportunity to tour the holy sites of Fátima on Saturday.

“It’s an adventure!” joked the archbishop before Mass.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann raises the host during Mass in Fátima with pilgrims from northeast Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The group had visited the site where the Blessed Virgin appeared to three children — Sts. Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Venerable Lucia Santos — in 1917, delivering three prophecies.

Pilgrims like Ariana Brancato of Church of the Nativity in Leawood were deeply moved.

“One thing that was really powerful was that the homily was about the power of family because it was the feast day of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus,” said Brancato.

“We got to see the tombs and houses of Saints Jacinta and Francisco,” she continued. “I saw a lot of parallels between the feast day and the story of the children of Fátima, which was beautiful.”

Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas explore the sites of Fátima. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Archbishop Naumann had another important message for the pilgrims to keep in mind during their journey.

“A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is something better,” he said. “It is better because you will return with a deeper friendship with the Lord.”

To view the full album of photos from World Youth Day, click here.

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Jack Figge

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