Hike, Mass bring young adults closer to God through nature

A group of young adults gather at the summit Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, N.H. for a Mass July 12 following a hike up the mountain sponsored the Archdiocese of Boston's Vocation Office and the Office of Faith Formation of Youth and Young Adults. Pilot photo/courtesy Bryan Carnahan

JAFFREY, N.H. -- For a group of young Catholics who hiked up Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, N.H., July 12, the trek presented more than an opportunity to enjoy nature, but an opportunity to experience the realities of their faith in beauty created by God.

The Vocation Office and the Office of Faith Formation of Youth and Young Adults of the Archdiocese of Boston hosted the event and Father Michael Harrington celebrated the Mass at 3,166 feet above sea level.

Father Harrington said the hike was "in the spirit of Pope John Paul II. He used to take young people up on camping and mountain trips where he would celebrate Mass for them in nature, we thought that it would be nice, a little different, for the young people to experience a Mass on a mountain."

"The same God who created the heavens and the Earth, came to us as a man and left to us His own Body and Blood," he added.

The hike began in the morning as hikers ages 18 and older arrived at the foot of the mountain. Before setting off, the group took a photo together and received a blessing.

Vocations director Father Daniel Hennessey, said participants in the hike came from well beyond the archdiocese.

"The hike was great especially because there were so many young adults from different parts of the archdiocese. We also had some people from New Hampshire and Rhode Island come," Father Hennessey said.

Father Hennessey led the hike from the front as things began, and Father Harrington followed up to prevent stragglers from falling behind.

Some of the young adults took the first hike of their lives, but more seasoned trekkers brought equipment that showed their experience.

Bryan Carnahan, 38, a resident of Salem, N.H. and a parishioner at St. Monica in Methuen, walked with hiking poles he said didn't actually speed his pace, but added stability that made it easier to keep his pace consistent.

"I do feel more comfortable going pretty fast with them, because if I go fast without them you're putting a lot of stress on your feet," he said.

Carnahan brought plenty of experience to the mountain that day. He hiked for years as a young person and remembered hiking with his parents at a young age -- specifically being young and small enough, when he began hiking, that logs fallen across the trail presented a difficult obstacle to traverse.

"We were little kids, and those logs were as tall as we were, or at least they were as wide as we were tall, so getting over them was a bit of a challenge. We found a way, and sometimes our parents would hold our hands and help us over them," he said.

As a college student he stayed with hiking, but remained disconnected from any kind of faith. Raised an atheist, he found a profound loneliness inside that didn't come from being alone. Having spent years "peak bagging" he had plenty of experience spending time alone -- especially on long hikes. To alleviate the feeling of loneliness, he reached back into memories of time spent going to Mass with his grandmother.

"I do remember being to Mass a few times as a kid, so I thought maybe I would check it out," Carnahan said of his return to the Church.

On the day of the hike, as the group neared the summit of the mountain, one of the priests asked people to scout ahead and find a suitable spot to celebrate the Mass. Carnahan volunteered.

He said the Mass presented a view that actually made him say "Wow" like nothing else that day.

"You don't always get to see something like that on a mountaintop, someone actually consecrating the bread and the wine," he said.

On the way back down the mountain, he stopped at a mountain brook and used a water filtration device he brought along to get some water. He said he noticed other hikers asking for water before he stopped so he shared what he had filtered with passersby, and refilled a few bottles.

Irene Mburu, 38, of Sacred Heart Parish in Quincy went on her first hike that day. She said the opportunity to participate in the Mass at the summit of the mountain brought her a sense of wonder.

"It felt very special. To be there and to have Mass, it was very, very special to me," she said.

Mburu, a nursing student from Kenya, said the experience tired her but became worth it as the day went on.

"Even in the morning I was like, should I go? Should I not? Should I go? Because, I have a lot of studying to do, but then I was like, oh, let me just go," Mburu said.

"It's good to be with friends and to go hiking for the first time," she said.

Another group never made it to the top of the mountain, became separated from the rest of the group, and missed the Mass. Father Carlos Suarez, of the vocations office for Hispanic ministries, stayed with that group throughout the day.

"One of the things that the Church teaches us is that there is a benefit when you can't receive communion. If you offer up that desire, God honors that desire and he fills us spiritually with his graces," Father Suarez said.

He said the communion the group experienced still brought with it a kind of closeness to God, even if the group did not make it to the Mass. Instead, the group ate lunch on a bluff within view of the summit, before heading along some less-traveled foot paths to rejoin the main group on their way down the mountain.

"We kind of take the comforts of life for granted, so it's good from time-to-time to step out of our comfort zone and to challenge ourselves really, because when we push our limits we recognize that we have to depend on something greater, on someone greater, than ourselves, if we are to overcome the difficulties we face. It's also a good reminder that we're not alone. I think in particular today's experience, the fact that a group of us hung together was significant, reminding us of that communion as well," he said.

Nation
Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

World
Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Nation
Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

World
Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

World
God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

World
Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

World
Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Nation
Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

Nation
N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Nation
Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Nation
Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Nation
Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

Nation
#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Nation
Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Nation
Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...