From Cardinal Seán's blog

Last weekend, I was in Washington attending the National Black Catholic Congress, which takes place every five years. The theme this year was "Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive." There were around 3,000 people, coming from all over the country.

The opening Mass was Friday at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where Cardinal Wilton Gregory presided and preached. There were about 30 bishops, and the shrine was packed. It was beautiful and a very moving celebration.

The bulk of the conference took place at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, about half an hour from the shrine. On Saturday, I went to the center to meet and have lunch with our Boston contingent there.

They say it's one of the biggest convention centers in the country. I had never been there before, but they have a Ferris wheel!

African National Eucharistic Congress

While I was in Washington, the African National Eucharistic Congress was taking place at the Catholic University of America.

Bishop Wolfgang Pisa, OFM Cap., the bishop of the Diocese of Lindi, Tanzania, celebrated the closing Mass for that conference.

I would have liked to participate but, as it turned out, too many things I was involved in were happening at the same time, so I was not able to make it.

Father Javier del Castillo

Sunday, I came back to Boston, and I had dinner with Father Javier del Castillo, who is the vicar of Opus Dei in the United States. It was very interesting to have a chance to talk with him about what is happening in Opus Dei, and he also shared with me the story of his family. They left Mexico when they received a death threat and had to come and live in the United States.

It was quite a harrowing adventure, and it reminded me of the stories of so many of my parishioners in Washington when I was working with the immigrants who were fleeing the violence in Central America. It was enlightening and fascinating to hear the history of Father del Castillo's family.

Then, I was able to invite him to join us as I gave a blessing at the cathedral for about 600 children from the Neocatechumenal Communities who were preparing to go to Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day.

I shared some statistics about World Youth Day and how it was started by John Paul II. I calculated that about 24 million young people have gone to World Youth Day. It is such a positive experience witnessing the life of the Church, and an opportunity for young people to be affirmed in their faith. I mentioned that I have been to World Youth Day in Denver, Rome, Toronto, Cologne, Sidney, Madrid, Krakow, Rio de Janeiro, Panama City, and now Lisbon. And I always find it a very uplifting experience, although it can be challenging. It's usually very hot. But it is a wonderful experience of the Catholicity of the Church, and I always say that it's like Pentecost, where pilgrims from every nation under Heaven are gathered around Mary, the Mother of the Church, and Peter in the person of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters in the faith.

I was very grateful to all these communities who organized this pilgrimage of our young people. I think there are another 300 from parishes who are joining us, and I will have Mass with them in Lisbon a week from Saturday.