Boston pilgrims attend World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne

COLOGNE — Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Boston spent their first days in Germany fighting off jet lag, while sharing stories with people from all over the world, singing familiar songs and looking forward to upcoming World Youth Day events.

The 158 pilgrims from the archdiocesan group arrived in Germany on Aug.15 with a few hours of sleep and a full day of activities ahead of them. Due to the number of participants, hotel accommodations could not be made for the whole group in Cologne, so half of the group is staying in nearby Düsseldorf. Another 300 pilgrims from different Boston parishes that have made their own travel arrangements are also attending World Youth Day.

Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley will join the Boston pilgrims during the week and will celebrate Mass with them in Cologne Aug. 20 in the morning.

The first day included free time to explore Cologne with their parish groups. Some who traveled from Boston speak German, Spanish or French and are able to communicate with fellow travelers who speak those languages. But most of the time communicating in English worked just fine.

“What state are you from?” shouted a group of pilgrims, recognizing fellow Americans.

“Massachusetts,” several from the Boston group answered.

“We’re from Indiana,” came the reply.

These conversations occurred over and over again as the travelers tried to orient themselves in a foreign country and, for many, a foreign experience.

Late on the first day, the entire Boston group met for a Mass at St. Andreas Church in Cologne.

“We are graced to be in this city at this time,” said Father Tom Dunne, director of the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, at the Mass for American pilgrims who arrived on Aug. 15, the day before World Youth Day officially began.

Father Dunne asked the youth to remember that God has blessed them with this opportunity.

After the Mass some people continued to explore Cologne while others headed back to the hotels. Most of the pilgrims staying in Düsseldorf fell asleep at some point on the way back to the hotel, which takes anywhere from one to three hours depending on the time  of day and number of other passengers. They woke due to starts, stops, and the occasional ringing cell phone, experiencing the same type of interrupted sleep they had on the plane ride over.

“I can’t wait to go back and sleep,” said Channing Shippen, a high school student from Our Lady of Hope Parish in Ipswich. “It’s like the never-ending day,” she added.

By the next morning, most of the jet lag had worn off. Some participants from the archdiocese brought guitars to serenade other pilgrims and residents of Cologne.

Everyone joined in to sing “Dirty Water” and a revised version of “Sweet Caroline” that is now “St. Benedict.” Those traveling from other destinations joined in if they knew the words, and others sang their own songs in their native language.

Parish groups split up again on the morning of the second day. Some toured area churches, went to museums or bought souvenirs. Most made their way to the opening Mass, held simultaneously in two separate locations, one in Cologne and the other in Düsseldorf.

Those who traveled to Cologne faced the dilemma of walking for an hour each way or trying to crowd on already clogged public transportation. Then, after reaching the Mass, which was held in a stadium, some found that no tickets were left and were invited to watch the Mass on a huge screen at a field nearby.

Maria Escallon, a youth from St. John the Evangelist Parish in Wellesley, said she expected many people but did not fully understand how large the crowds would be.

Escallon said she hopes she will gain a stronger connection with God through her World Youth Day experience. Although this is her first time, her brother attended WYD in both Rome and Toronto. “He came back more connected with his faith,” Escallon said.

Charlene Gay, also from St. John’s, attended WYD in Denver 12 years ago and has come back this year as an adult leader with her husband, Bob Collins, director of youth ministry at St. John’s.

“It reconfirms the faith that’s out there in the world, especially coming from Boston,” she added.

Too many people in the archdiocese have fallen away from the Church because they are hurt, she said. They have become distrustful and have forgotten the comfort a faith community can provide in life, she said.

Gay said she is especially excited for the march at the end of the week to Marienfeld, the section of farmland where pilgrims will hold an evening vigil and celebrate morning Mass with Pope Benedict XVI. All different cultures come together to celebrate, forming an amazing crowd that will stay up late into the night, dancing and singing until 3 a.m., she said.

Julie Morrison, attending her first WYD with others from St. John’s, said she is looking forward to this “culmination” where so many young people will come together for the same reason and celebrate Mass with the pope.

Morrison, who will be entering her senior year of high school in the fall, said she is looking forward to telling people what she did this summer.

“Some people ask, ‘What did you do this summer?’” she said, adding that she will be able to proudly respond, “Oh, I went to Germany, and I saw the pope.”

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
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

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 ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...