| Pope, youths leave lasting impression
Father Jim Sullivan, parochial vicar of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brentwood, has led many youth pilgrimages in Europe and both North and South America over the past 15 years. "But I have never encountered anything like World Youth Day," he said.
"The only analogy I could come up for it was the Olympics," he said. "I was in London last year during the Summer Olympics, and what I saw in Rio this summer reminded me of the London games. So many venues for different events around the city. Such a huge coordinated effort to move literally millions of visitors (pilgrims, in Rio) to these various venues."
He had high praise for "such well-thought out days and nights, for the young people," which included catechetical sessions with bishops and cardinals, followed by Mass in the home language, followed by a variety of events throughout the afternoon (from Disciples on Campus to Faith and the Media) followed by the spectacular evenings "on the beach, at Copacabana, with Pope Francis."
The Brentwood group of 35 — about one-third adults — stayed in a hotel that faced Copacabana Beach.
The pope's involvement in World Youth Day made its mark on Father Sullivan. "I was astounded when I realized that every single evening, Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday morning, too, Francis would be with us (all 3.7 million of us!) there at Copacabana. His energy and his love are infectious. He is a very well-named Pope."
The young people, too, left a lasting impression. "The kids were wonderful," said Father Sullivan. "All of them, not just our Brentwood group.
"We spent the night on the beach next to a Brazilian group. They were amazing — so faith-filled, so in love with Jesus. The enthusiasm for Jesus, the love for the faith, the excitement at being taught (in the catechetical sessions) by cardinals and the great affection shown for Francis — the faith, in other words, that I saw evidenced among the young in Rio last month was awesome."
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