Of the estimated 3 million pilgrims that attended the World Youth Day Celebration with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro last month, it is likely more than a fair number were young Catholics from the Midwest.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis reported the travels and experiences of two dozen enthusiastic pilgrims who described an energizing worship experience complete with multilingual songs and prayers that united the weary travelers in their faith.
Several of the St. Louis group, according to the Archdiocese, commented on Pope Francis’ ability to relate to young people. In the closing Mass on July 28, he told the youth that “sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church and that includes you.” Pope Francis encouraged adults in the church to accompany young people on their journey of faith and to never let them feel alone.
Attendees of the World Youth events also talked about the catechesis sessions with the bishops. They also listened to talks from a number of English speaking leaders, one of whom was St. Louis native Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. There was also a celebration of international scouting with a Mass on July 23 in Rio. The only priest representing the U.S. at the Mass was Father Joseph Weber, pastor of St. Justin Martyr Parish in Sunset Hills, Missouri.
Also celebrated at the youth gathering was a pro-Lesbian, Gay Bi-Sexual, Transgender (LGBT) message. Ohio University’s LGBT Center was represented by its recently appointed director Delfin Bautista.
Bautista also appeared on the “Equally Blessed” Facebook site for World Youth Day. Equally Blessed is a coalition of four Catholic organizations that have been working on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. Bautista was one of six people representing the group at the festivities in Rio.
The group wore shirts that read, “Gay? Fine by me,” and a carried a banner stating their cause, according to The Athens News. They also shared their thoughts on how the LGBT community fits into the Catholic community.
Originally published on our previous website, Brazil in the Midwest. Photo: Pilgrims from Brazil and the Archdiocese of St. Louis met during a vocations fair at World Youth Day (by Brian Miller).