[From Archdiocese of Regina website]
WORLD YOUTH DAY PILGRIMS
Last updated on November 2, 2011.World Youth Day Youth
They finally arrived home, August 26, about five hours late, tired but happy after the “experience of a lifetime,” at World Youth Day events in Madrid, Spain and visiting ancient and holy sites in Italy.
Melissa Strachan, 21, and Chelsea Dumontier, 18, were two of 41 Regina Archdiocesan youth pilgrims. They were accompanied by Archdiocesan Youth Coordinator Michelle Braden, Archbishop Daniel Bohan and Reverend Danilo Rafael.
The trip was 24 days. It included a week in Rome with a visit to Assisi; a week in Granada, Spain hosted with local families; a week in Madrid with Word Youth Day events and the remaining days at the El Poblado del Amanacer retreat centre in a nature preserve near Spain’s Mediterranean Coast.
Braden said the trip was challenging but she recognized lots of growth in herself and among the other pilgrims. Dumontier and Strachan said they learned more about themselves and their faith had been strengthened.
The entire trip was a highlight for all three but for Strachan and Braden time spent in retreat was a special highlight. “It was time to unwind and put a focus on what we’ve done,” said Braden. “It was time to reflect and time to figure out how I was going to apply all of this new found wisdom to real life,” said Strachan. Dumontier said initially the trip was a little scary for her. She had never been away from home for more than a week prior to this trip. “I called home and everything was ok after that.” Her trip highlight was the mass in St. Francis Basilica in Assisi. “I think it was the first mass for me that I was actually completely focussed on. I totally forgot that there was anybody else in that building but us. I turned around and saw all these other people and had this overwhelming sense of joy. It was so exciting!” They were the only youth pilgrims in the building. The rest were mostly tourists, she said. Braden also described mass in the basilica as amazing.
The group stayed in hotels while in Rome and Assisi, spent a week with families, slept under the stars in on overnight vigil prior to the opening of World Youth Day in Madrid.
The week in Madrid was hosted by a local parish where the group slept on the floor of the parish centre.
Each pilgrim paid $4,000.00 which included accommodation, transportation, entrée fees for some locations and most meals. Each brought their own spending money. Strachan said she and her group from St. Peter’s Parish, Regina, fund raised for three years.
Dumontier replaced someone who dropped out and had to raise the money in one year. Her parents helped and she received donations from Holy Child, Regina, parishioners.
The next Youth Day will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013.
[Picture is one of three on the website with the above article – this one shows Nathan Labatt front row (far right) wearing red and white check shirt. That’s Fr. Danilo Rafael, in yellow shirt, upper far left by the statue: he is one of the priests who accompanied the group]