I've finally found a few minutes of time to write a concluding blog entry concerning World Youth Day 2005. I will go over a few final thoughts about the pilgrimage, and some interesting information I've learned throughout the trip.
International Travel Tips
This being my first trip outside the U.S., I tried to prepare for the worst in everything, and I think I did a good job. I decided to withdraw 150 euros before leaving, so there would be no hassle in Europe trying to get money; this turned out to be the best way to do things, because many stores and restaurants didn't accept credit cards for purchases under 20 euros because the credit card processing system in Europe is much less efficient than ours in the U.S.
Today I was able to take a few up-close pictures of Pope Benedict XVI, and I also was able to touch his hand, along with a few other St. Louis Seminarians. I have posted pictures on my Seminary Website, and I will write a little bit about this experience below.
After an early start on the day, I waited for about eight hours in different lines to enter St. Panteleon Church, to eat lunch, and to get a spot close to where Pope Benedict would be passing by. And it was all worth it—the rain, the sun and the boredom (hey, it's a pilgrimage!). As Pope Benedict passed the group of St. Louis seminarians in the courtyard, I snapped two quick shots (one's a little blurry), and reached out to touch his hand. As an added bonus, Pelé (you know, the soccer player...) walked by earlier that day and I also snapped a couple of pictures of him!
This picture is courtesy of a fellow seminarian, Mike, taken on the evening of August 18, when Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Köln and waved to many thousands of WYD participants from his Mercedes-Benz Popemobile:
I thought it would be good for me to note some of the cultural differences I've noticed between Holland/Germany and the U.S. during my trip so far, if nothing else to try to understand the people in this part of Europe a little better:
I've posted pictures for days five through eight on my Seminary Website, so you can check those out. Expect a posting concerning the woes of a trip-gone-wrong to a castle and the latin language later today or in the next day or two. Tomorrow the seminarians will have an 'audience with the Pope' at St. Paneleon Church. Please continue your prayers for safe travels and health!
Now more than halfway through the Pilgrimage to Koln (Cologne) for World Youth Day 2005, I thought it might be a good idea to reflect a little on the happenings and developments of my journey so far.
Trip to the German Countryside
The seminarians from Kenrick-Glennon had a day planned (the 16th, to be precise) during which we were going to visit a castle (Neuschweinstein I think), tour the countryside on train and visit the wood-carving town of Oberammagau (I think I spelled it wrong). Unfortunately, we did not have much luck doing most of what we had originally planned on doing. It was raining steadily for most of the day, and, after an eight hour train and bus ride, we found that we wouldn't be able to go inside the castle because of the amount of people in line.
I've posted pictures from days two, three and four; I don't know when I'll be able to find another wireless connection to upload the next few days of pictures again, because I leave for Cologne (Köln) tomorrow morning. I will post more as soon as I find a good connection
This program, with the many days we've spent in and around Holland, has been a great experience, and has greatly enriched my faith. We've done so much in these short few days that I find myself rushed trying to simply type this blog entry, much less organize and post pictures on the Internet!
On Holland, Europe and Faith
After speaking many times to the very kind family that is hosting myself and my fellow seminarian Brian, attending a few different liturgical services (including Sunday Mass) and talking to a few complete strangers on the streets of Roermond, I have discovered that many problems exist for the Catholic Church of Holland (and, on a greater scale, Europe).