Friday, August 19, 2011

WYD 2011 - The Palacio de Deportes

August 19, 2011

(NOTE: Again, this is a double blog entry. The first one is the one that follows this one, since these blogs are uploaded as the latest one first.)

Today we decided to forego our local catechetical session and instead participate in the session at the "Love and Life" center downtown. This large venue was created by the USCCB (the bishops of the U.S.) and others for the English-speaking pilgrims. They provided talks, liturgies, resources, workshops, and a vocation cafe, along with various displays and the like. It was a good decision on our part.

In the morning, we had our group prayer and meeting in the open basketball court next to the gym, while the vietnamese group had theirs in the gymnasium. And afterwards, we also met one another in the Metro and traveled part of the way downtown together. They were off to a different venue while we were off to the Palacio de Desportes, a large stadium that can hold 15,000 people.

We quickly found the Palacio upon exciting the Metro and stood in line to have our bags checked. We apparently also needed our credentials from WYD, which some of us had left at home. During the bag check and general fussing around for our credentials, it became clear that this may be a problem. But rescue was on the way in the person of Br. Paul Bernarczyk, CSC (Executive Director of the NRVC and friend of the Brothers) who came out and convinced the security folks to let us through. He explained inside that they had been blocking anyone else from coming in, since the place was packed to the rafters. But he saw us and wanted to make sure to help us. "Anything for the Christian Brothers," he said. It was good to see him, although he had to immediately dash off to deal with another problem.

We made our way upstairs and found seats in generally the same area, although we had to split up into smaller groups. Soon the program began and out stepped Maggie McCarty and her husband to begin the morning´s activities. She was just appointed as Executive Director for the Regional Council of Lasallian Association for Mission (RCLAM for short), a new position for the Lasallian institutions in the US-Toronto Region, and it was great to see her in this prominent role. In her introduction, she stated that she was now working for the De La Salle Christian Brothers, which brought a cheer from various parts of the auditorium (including ours, of course). She and her husband spoke for a bit and then she introduced Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York who would be the catechetical speaker for the morning.

Here followed a very good talk by Cardinal Dolan on the qualities needed for a firm faith. He quoted others, told stories about himself, and generally was both relaxed, personable, and learned. It was a fast 30-40 minutes of catechesis and we showed our appreciation for his teaching skills at the end. After a break, there was liturgy with some 250 priests and over 50 bishops in attendance. The parades (I mean processions) alone took 10 minutes or so. The whole thing went well, expect for two little niggling things. Cardinal Dolan introduced and had stand for applause the bishops in the audience, the priests in the audience, the sisters in the audience, and the Knights of Columbus. (Anything missing here?) I was waiting for something about others in consecrated life, or Brothers, or anything even vaguely similar. But it was not to be. I should accept this as part of our practical humility, I suppose. The other thing was that the guitar-based musical selections seemed to clash with the chant of the Gospel, the intonations of prayers and the like. I find both musical styles appealing in their own way, but mixing them seemed to be too promiscuously eclectic. But maybe I´m just being picky in my old(er) age.

Afterwards, we joined up with Br. Chris Patino and his group from Cathedral High School (Los Angeles) who were also there, and both groups went out to find a place where they would take 50+ for lunch. It ended up that we all split to different restaurants, and most of the folks in our group went to a small place where the highlight was the Chorizo Sandwich. Add a beer and you´ve got your full meal.

Although it was very hot and humid, a group of us decided to visit the Vocation area in a local park. It was interesting but strange. Here it was over 100 degrees and the "booths" were all in the open. Nevertheless, there were crowds of young people coming and going, picking up free trinkets and talking with the religious and priests who were promoting their lives. We spread out and spoke with folks as well, giving out whatever brochures we had brought. Many people recognized the robes and some enthusiastically so, recalling their own education or Brothers from within their own countries. I was not all that comfortable in my robe in the heat, but the ability to provide that witness to others made it all worthwhile.

After about an hour, we´d had enough and made our way back. Three of us returned to the Palacio for a presentation on prayer in main AIR-CONDITIONED arena. Along the way, we met several young men seeking their vocation and had some really fine conversations about the discernment process. The presentation on prayer was really very good, with four different speakers, and upon its completion we made our way "home" via the Metro where we joined the Brothers in the community in watching the Stations of Cross prayer service downtown with the Holy Father. A whole series of traditional floats were the main feature of the service. Some of our guys had decided to go downtown to watch it up close, and they came pretty close. But they said that once the Holy Father had arrived, the crush of people became too much and they made their long way home.

And later in the evening (are we becoming more Spanish, since it felt like the right time to eat?) we walked a block to a nearby restaurant to have our evening meal together. Other Lasallian groups were nearby, including some young Brothers from Brasil, and it seemed like a fine way to end the day.

The papal/pilgrim marathon begins tomorrow.

Below are photographs taken today. Click on the show to open up a page with all of the individual pictures with their captions.