Pope Benedict XVI delivered words of encouragement to over 1.5 million young people Sunday, who were urged to become missionaries for the faith, during the conclusion of the church youth festival. He also announced the venue of the 2012 youth festival, Rio de Janeiro.
The World Youth Day pilgrims, who were hosted at a Madrid airfield, were told by the pope that they should fully participate in the life of their parishes, remain in communion with their church, and not keep their faith private.
“So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith,” he said.
The World Youth Day celebration was marred by a fierce thunderstorm and forced the pope to cut short his remarks. It also injured six people after a tent collapsed, and makeshift chapels damaged. Organizers announced Sunday morning that not all participants would be able to receive Communion during the Sunday mass because of the weather condition.
World Youth Day organizing committee leader Yago de la Cierva said almost none of the young people received the Communion which proved to be a letdown to fervent Catholics.
The pilgrims who spent the night in tents and sleeping bags may have experienced discomfort and disappointment but they seemed unfazed by it all. The late arrivals were accommodated at the newly-opened area at the base.
“The night was amazing, I didn’t sleep at all,” said Adrinna Wista, a 21-year-old Polish pilgrim. “We stayed the night chatting, meeting new people and praying with them. Amazing.”
The 29-year old Venezuelan Cristina Velasquez spend the night with a group of Indian pilgrims said “Sleeping was difficult because the ground is quite stony. But waking up was indescribable, we are all so happy and united.”
“The pope’s words have made me proud to be making this sacrifice for his and Christ’s sake,” she said.
“I think this is great for Brazil and its youth because it’s a very Catholic country,” said Brazilian pilgrim Rogerio Moreira, 35. “It’s a very good experience for those who can’t attend other World Youth Days.”