Group led by World Youth Day department travels to Rome for JPII beatification
Madrid, April 29, 2011.- A flight from Madrid to Rome is about two hours and can cost less than 100 euros or under 150 dollars, round trip. However 600 young people from Madrid and Barcelona are making the voyage by bus and boat. All together it will take more than 24 hours for the group to get to Rome and they'll be there just long enough to participate in the prayer vigil and beatification Mass before getting back on a bus to return to Madrid.
Are they crazy? Some might make that argument, but they see it another way. “It's not about how long it takes to get there, it's about how much fun you have along the way,” said Fernando Sols, a World Youth Day volunteer participating in the beatification pilgrimage. Certainly, where two or more youth are gathered for a good cause fun will be had. Certainly nothing draws young people together like a 29 hour voyage.
Many pilgrims on Bus number three are WYD staff or family members. The main challenge for these pilgrims is not to talk about work. That challenge is easily overcome by sharing pilgrimage stories and catching up on much needed sleep. Some of the more experienced pilgrims (those over 25) have memories of past World Youth Days and the number one story making it's way through the bus in the Spanish experience of WYD Toronto in 2002 when the skies opened up and drenched pilgrims but cleared – miraculously some say- just in time for the closing Mass at Downsview Park. Cristina, one of two WYD volunteer photographers said, “my two most immediate memories of Toronto are the rain that started in the middle of the night after the vigil and drenched us, and the sun that broke through in the morning just in time for the Mass.”
Mixed in with the WYD staff members on board this particular bus are a handful of young people from France. They are part of “L'annonciation” a lay movement of people who announce Christ to the average person on the street. The approximately ten members of the movement kept the energy level on the bus high.
The pilgrimage convoy was due to arrive in Barcelona at 8pm local time and board a ferry bound for Civitavecchia. The ride from Barcelona to Civitavecchia – the port of Rome – would take 22 hours and get the pilgrims to Circo Massimo just in time for the start of the prayer vigil in honor of John Paul II's beatification.