IEC2012 reports from World Youth Day in Madrid

Friday August 19, 2011

Staff from IEC20102 are meeting hundreds of pilgrims and young people during World Youth Day. Read the reports from staff who've been meeting pilgrims and sharing the excitement at this festival of faith.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

 "I'm sitting down enjoying a very cold bottle of water after a very long but wonderful day. And I'm thinking of you all!

We're so grateful for the weekend to acclimatise in Madrid, to get a feel of the city and see how the set up is going for WYD. Colette, Gellért and I have had a really enjoyable time together! We found a fab coffee shop on our street and that has become our local coffee stop.

On Monday we set up our stand which is number 6 of a row of 68 stalls. The little kiosks are great but quite hot. It's almost cooler outside in the sun!

Today, Tuesday, was our first day. We are next to the vocations hub for England and Wales and spent a lot of time talking to some really lovely young English pilgrims, many of whom knew about the Congress. Two in particular were so knowledgeable we could have left them on our stand and gone for a break! Nearly all of them had relations in Ireland and would spread the word to them. Fr Julian Greene is well known to a lot of them and he has them well briefed! I also spoke to a Portuguese priest from Faro who is really looking forward to bringing a group from his diocese (he is ordained 3 years and has done 40 weddings, 25 of whom were Irish couples!). There are many pilgrims from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, USA, Peru, Costa Rica....the list really is endless. Far more Spanish speakers than I thought. Plenty of Canadians too and one girl I met on the Metro was a volunteer in Quebec!

Today Colette and I also joined the Irish groups (about 1,000 of them). It was great to feel the energy they had. Real energy and enthusiasm for their faith. We gave out Congress pins to them and told them to spread the word and register as a volunteer!! Gellért kindly manned the stand for the 3 hours that we were gone. All of us were exhausted by the end of the day! The opening mass of WYD was at 8pm tonight.

We are learning so much and picking up great tips. It really is wonderful to be here anyway and I'm keeping all of you in my prayers.

Kevin, Ger and Michael arrived tonight and are heading off to speak to a group of Austrians tomorrow who are coming next year. Their Bishop was in Dublin in June.

Looking forward to seeing what Wednesday has to offer! I'll send an email again tomorrow night. Buenos noches!"

Sheena, Colette & Gellért


Wednesday 17 August 2011

 " Well what another incredible day here in Madrid. (I'll try not to mention the heat too often!) We spoke to hundreds of people again and all with such enthusiasm for coming to Dublin. Because of where the stand is located, there are a lot of local people popping by and nearly all have kids who have studied in Dublin over the years. It's amazing the connection between our two countries. Plenty of people from exotic locations too - Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius as well as India, Algeria, South Africa. Everywhere. I spoke to a girl from France who comes from the parish where the lady who founded the international congresses was from. She hopes to come over. Ger spoke to a priest who was ordained during the Congress in Lourdes 30 years ago. A group of young Swedish people also really enthusiastic and they know the delegate for Scandanavia so will contact him to get a group over. A Brazilian guy living in Dublin, is here with CYC who can't wait to get more involved and will help with translations.

Ger and Kevin went to speak with a few groups and Kevin ended up on German radio! They are speaking to more Germans on Friday. Ger spoke at a pro life conference that was very well attended by Irish. Cardinal Pell from Australia  was the main speaker. Ger introduced Elation Ministries at that event and spoke about IEC2012. Elation came to our stand tonight and did some amazing promotion. They will be back on Friday for a music session at the stand! Bishop McKeown called by too with his group from Down and Connor. A crowd from Catholic Youth Care too. I got chatting to a lovely group from Jersey who intend to bring a parish group to Dublin. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. So many Americans (north and south!) and Australians. And that was just my experience, Gellért, Colette, Kevin and Ger have loads of stories too.

I took a break in the afternoon and spent a holy hour with Youth2000 and the church was jammers. I would love you all to see the unbelievable faith expressed by so many youth from all over the world. So many cultures and languages, yet all with that one common bond - our Catholic faith. It's so refreshing. One memory from today for me is when on the Metro (packed!) we were stopped at a station for a long time. There was no complaining, just singing and smiling and chatting amongst the pilgrims. Everyone is so polite and helpful and happy! it's kinda funny to see the locals’ reaction, they don't understand why this massive group of young people are happy and not causing mayhem!

Anyway! Ger, Colette, Kevin and I finally ate at about 10pm and we had a great chat and laugh about everything. More action tomorrow, visiting various Catechesis venues, talking to people on the metro and of course at our stand.

 I hope you're able to follow some of what's happening here in Madrid online. Salt and Light TV (online too) have good coverage of events. EWTN too. The Pope arrives tomorrow and there is small Metro strike, yay! But who cares? we'll just sing songs with strangers and have a ball!

Will be in touch tomorrow.

Buenos noches."

Sheena, Colette & Gellért


Thursday 18 August 2011

" Well the Pope is here! There was great excitement around Madrid today. The locals have done a wonderful job decorating their own windows with Spanish and Papal flags. We were so delighted when at 5pm we were told that the police wanted to close all the stalls at 5.30pm! It was a great relief to know we could leave the stand, guilt free! While it started off in the morning at a very cool 25 degrees and some beautiful refreshing rain, it soon shot up to 38 degrees again and we were roasting for the day! This morning I had a lie in and went to Starbucks for breakfast (Gellért wouldn't allow me to go during the week so I enjoyed my coffee in peace and quiet!).

Then I headed to Catechesis with Archbishop Dolan from New York....and it was so packed I couldn't get into the church, not an inch of room on the floor. I stood outside in a crowded courtyard and tried to listen but couldn't so made my way back to Retiro to the stand. I was so tired from yesterday that I was wandering around in a daze for a while so decided to go for a wander to see how the confessions and adoration areas were set up in the park. Three Spanish women stopped me thinking I was a volunteer and when they realised I was from Ireland, one of them got very excited and told me she was an O'Donnell! I gave her a Congress pin and she and her friends said they would love to come to Dublin next year. It's amazing how many people have Irish relations over here! Anyway, I strolled down the never ending line of confession boxes and noticed the volunteers kindly giving bottles of water and bananas to the priests to keep them going. An important note!! When I finally got to the Adoration tent, there was a queue to get in so I didn't stay, the heat was too much. On my way back (slightly uphill!), I met some friends from home so we sat down in the shade for a while. Back at the stand and I was really just fit for sleep so Colette and I went for food in a fab Italian restaurant nearby. Suddenly I was human again!! Gellért was delighted because that meant I had the energy to relieve him so he could go for lunch. He's very particular about his food - he needs to eat often!!

 Ger went to the Catecheis with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin this morning and spoke about the Congress. He said there is great interest in volunteering amongst the Irish, thankfully! I spoke to many Australians, Spaniards, of course, and lots of English pilgrims too. Oh and not to mention our daily visit from Bishop Donal McKeown! He arrived at the right time, just when Kevin got back with ice cream! A young lad from Newry, who will volunteer, told me that his grandad is very excited about next year because he turns 80 on 17 June 2012....he was born in 1932! And he will celebrate in Croke Park!

We also had a visit from our number 2 volunteer, Sean Jones (Ger G being volunteer number 1 of course!) who is over with a group from Sligo. Gellért is meeting so many Hungarians too and I think word is spreading that he is at our stand. The girls love him ;-) He did say though that he found it hard to translate the Congress into Hungarian (or Magyar as the language is known) but that he was getting the hang of it.

Everyone loves the Congress pins and we give a leaflet with every pin. It is great to have the Spanish translation on the leaflets.

 We stayed away from the centre tonight and went for dinner near the hotel instead and watched the Pope's welcoming ceremony on TV in the restaurant/bar. On the way in we met two Spanish guys who spoke fluent English and whose daughters were heading off to Ireland in September to guy’s daughter is going to King’s Hospital in Dublin and the other guy’s daughter is going to....wait for it Laura...Our Lady's Bower in Athlone!!! Both will study in Ireland for 3 years and do their leaving cert. And yes, they all got Congress pins!

Tomorrow is our last full day at the stand and my last day with Gellért and Colette :-( I will miss them both so much. They want me to go to Rimini with them! I asked Kevin but.....

 I know tomorrow is going to be another busy but enjoyable and productive day! I’ll need a foot massage when I get home too and knee replacements, my legs are in bits!!

 Buenos noches"


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