Priest to World Youth Day pilgrims: ‘The Lord is waiting for you there’

Roxanne King
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The Holy Father invited and they are going.

So said Father Giuseppe Fedele, who oversees the Neocatechumenal Way in Colorado. Some 300 of the catechumenate’s members will be journeying to World Youth Day in Poland at the end of the month.

“There is a call from Peter, the Holy Father Francis, to go,” Father Fedele said, referring to the pope’s message last August when he became the first pilgrim to register for the event and invited youths to attend.

The Way group is the largest from the Archdiocese of Denver going to the July 25-31 international Catholic youth celebration in Krakow, which in keeping with the current Year of Mercy is themed, “‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’” (Mt 5:7).

This is the first time a World Youth Day has taken place during a jubilee year.

“The Lord is waiting for you there,” Father Fedele told the Way pilgrims after Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila blessed them June 24 at the St. John Paul II Center in south Denver. His words echoed those of Pope Francis in his World Youth Day 2016 message.

“Dear young people … Jesus is waiting for you,” he wrote. “He has confidence in you and is counting on you!”

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, right, and Father Guiseppe Fidele, right, address World Youth Day pilgrims of the Neocatechumenal Way during a blessing and send-off ceremony June 24 at the St. John Paul II Center in Denver. Some 300 Neocatechumenal Way pilgrims are travelling to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day, representing one of the larger groups going from the Archdiocese of Denver. (Photo by Aaron Lambert | Denver Catholic)

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila blesses World Youth Day pilgrims of the Neocatechumenal Way during a send-off ceremony June 24 at the St. John Paul II Center in Denver. Some 300 Neocatechumenal Way pilgrims are travelling to Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day, representing the largest group going from the Archdiocese of Denver. (Photo by Aaron Lambert | Denver Catholic)

Like the pope, Father Fedele and Archbishop Aquila urged the pilgrims to be a light for the world so desperately in need of Christ’s love and mercy. This, too, is a reason for going on the pilgrimage, they said.

“To give to society, especially to Europe, which is becoming more and more secularized, a hope that is beautiful,” explained Father Fedele. “That they may see that it is joyful to believe in God and that there is another way to live as a youth. That you can be happy following the Lord.”

The Way youths will evangelize by announcing the good news in public squares and giving witness to what Jesus Christ has done in their lives.

In addition to attending the vigil and Mass with the Holy Father at the Field of Mercy, located southeast of central Krakow, the Way pilgrims will visit Terezin, a concentration camp outside of Prague that was run by Nazi Germany from 1941-1945, and the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, enshrined at Jasna-Gora Monastery, the national shrine of Poland located in Czestochowa.

They will also attend an international vocational meeting with the initiators of the Way, during which youths will be invited to answer a call to priesthood or consecrated life and families to go on mission to de-Christianized areas of the world.

“God has a plan for (everyone),” Father Fedele said. He has a mission for (everyone). The whole purpose of Christian life is to discover what that mission is, the plan God wants to open for you.”

Not only is Christ waiting for the pilgrims in Poland, Father Fedele said, but he desires that they be the source of an encounter for others with him.

“God wants to have a personal experience with each one of us that can really change our life,” he said, referring to the joy of new life in Christ that transforms us from being self-centered and empty to selfless and loving. “[Then] everything has a meaning, even suffering.”

COMING UP: World Youth Day pilgrims retrace John Paul II’s footsteps

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World Youth Day pilgrims retrace John Paul II’s footsteps

Pilgrim group revisited sites from historic 1993 visit before heading to Krakow

Aaron Lambert
Beatitudes WYD group_WEB

One group of Denver World Youth Day pilgrims retraced Saint John Paul II’s footsteps in Denver before heading off to Krakow…literally.

During the week prior to leaving for World Youth Day, Father Anthony Arinello of the Community of the Beatitudes led a group of young adult pilgrims from all over the country on a local pilgrimage to the sites that Saint John Paul II visited while he was here for World Youth Day in 1993. From walking to Regis University to Mass at Camp St. Malo to camping out at Cherry Creek State Park, the pilgrims were reminded of the saint’s presence here in Denver before leaving to his homeland of Poland for this year’s World Youth Day in Krakow, which is expected to draw two million pilgrims from all over the globe.

“John Paul II was such an inspiration to my vocational discernment, and especially my falling in love with the Church,” Father Arinello said. “I really want to give these young people witnesses of courage and fullness of life. The theme of World Youth Day 1993 is something we try to make a fundamental element of [the Community of the Beatitudes’] vocations ministry for young people.”

In his work as a chaplain both for the Colorado School of Mines and the Fellowship of Catholic Students summer training, Father Arinello has built connections with young adults from all over the country, which is how he assembled this particular group of pilgrims traveling with him to World Youth Day. He said that step one is getting in touch with young people, and step two is to “lure them with a carrot,” such as this trip to World Youth Day.

Father Anthony Arinello, center, says Mass at Denver International Airport for the World Youth Day pilgrims before heading off to Poland. (Photo provided)

Father Anthony Arinello says Mass at Denver International Airport for the Beatitudes World Youth Day pilgrims before heading off to Poland. (Photo provided)

“What they appreciate most along the way is to be able to worship as one body and to be able to live in community, like a little family,” he said of the pilgrims’ experience.

Once they reach Europe, Father Arinello and his group of pilgrims will join other Beatitudes communities from all over the world and make the trek to World Youth Day with them.

Becca Rodeheffer is one of the pilgrims with the Community of the Beatitudes going to World Youth Day. A student at the University of Denver, she said that in retracing Saint John Paul II’s steps in Denver, it hit her that a large contributing factor to the strength of the Denver Catholic community is because he visited the Mile High City in 1993, and local Catholics are still reaping the fruits from it.

“A saint was literally here,” she said. “I feel like it’s not bragged about enough. It’s a huge deal. Being from Denver, I get to experience the fruits of that. It’s so amazing how strong our Catholic community is here.”

Rodeheffer is excited to continue retracing Saint John Paul II’s steps in Poland on the road to World Youth Day, but most of all, she’s excited to be traveling with a group of people who share a common love for the Lord and building a community with them.

“In the past few days, I’ve been loving to get to know all of the pilgrims who are here,” she said. “They’re so inspiring. Their prayer life is really inspiring for me, and I’m really looking forward to building community with them and sharing stories and experiences together.”

Beatitudes Pilgrims

The Beatitudes World Youth Day pilgrims are posting pilgrimage updates at http://beatitudeswyd.wix.com