.- It took a long trip, and “a lot of sacrifice,” for Lucas Masila and his 6-year old son Laurent to make it to Madrid for World Youth Day 2011.
But they're glad to be here, and to have their faith strengthened by Pope Benedict XVI. “It was not easy to come, so we are thankful,” Masila told CNA on August 20.
Catholics, he said, “are the majority in Kenya,” but “it is challenging, because of the hardships … Social-economic situations make it hard, but we are happy. We are happy to be Catholic.”
The trip cost about $3,000 dollars for each of them. Because his son is so young, Lucas traveled separately, without a larger group.
“He is my group,” Lucas Masila said, smiling and looking down at his energetic son.
Laurent's father is attending World Youth Day for the third time this year, having traveled to Italy for the 2000 gathering and to Germany in 2005. He experienced Blessed Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in 2000, and is excited to have seen Pope Benedict XVI.
“For me, it is wonderful. For my son it is more exciting! It is the first time he is at World Youth Day, and we have seen the Pope twice. We are very excited about it.”
Their favorite event so far has been the Stations of the Cross, where youth from different countries carried the cross.
“My son wanted to walk with the people carrying the cross - he was not very happy because he wanted to walk,” Lucas said, chuckling at his son’s eagerness.
The experience will “improve his faith,” and Laurent “will be able to direct other people,” the boy’s father observed.
“He is a happy boy,” he said. “A God-fearing boy.”
Laurent said that he has had “a lot of fun” throughout the week, and has collected an array of pins and other mementos, all displayed on his pilgrim backpack.
The experience has been “more than worth” the sacrifice it took,” said his father: “We do not regret anything!”