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Pilgrim report: The echo of the Gospel

August 24, 2011
The following post was contributed by Stefanie Romano, a team leader from the Archdiocese of Toronto Office of Catholic Youth. The OCY Toronto pilgrims visited Rome before heading to World Youth Day in Madrid.
I am amazed at how active the spirit has been. Praise be to Jesus for carrying us through this miraculous day.
We woke up at 5am because we were headed to the Vatican for a private mass in the San Giuserppe chapel. Walking into an empty Piazza San Pietro was too good to be true. Serene, unusual, and it felt as though the sun was rising just for us! On the bus ride in, I was sharing with one of our priests a reflection about the parable of the lost sheep that I had written for the S+L Blog.
Little did I know, but that was the very same Gospel reading that morning. At St. Peter’s Basilica. In the center of Rome. On this perfect day! I was in awe.
I had no idea what the day would bring, but I was dancing with the Lord.
We proceeded with a tour of Vatican grounds including the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. The crowds started to grow at 9:30am and our group of 48 were on a guided tour. Can you imagine what that was like? It was similar to a flock of sheep trying to stick together in a herd ten times its size.
I wish I could say we all had cell phones and only one or two lost their way. But what kind of test would that be from Jesus, the ultimate teacher?
We lost eight of our pilgrims in the basilica and they were missing for approximately an hour and a half. During that time I felt really helpless. The rest of the group had questions I didn't really have the answers to, given the circumstances. When's lunch? How much free time do we get? When are we going back to the hotel?
We searched the basilica again and again and I have never prayed the rosary so fervently in my life. Mother Mary provides so much comfort.
In that time two of our pilgrims showed up and I got word that another two found the other bus group. Praise the name of Mary!
It was only another half-hour later that we got word from the final four and they met us at the obelisk in the centre of St. Peter’s Square.
If that's not a spirit driven day, I don't know what is. We were able to enjoy our afternoon in peace and I was overwhelmed with tears of joy and reverence for how challenging today's Gospel message appeared in action. It was by grace that we managed to trust in the Lord.
Nada te turbe! Nada espante! Quien a Dios tiene! Nada Le Falta!

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