.- Some 8,000 U.S. pilgrims at World Youth Day 2011 received expressions of gratitude and encouragement from their country's bishops, following a Mass on the morning of August 20.
“We bishops encourage your energy, your enthusiasm and your love. We support your witness when you go back home, we request your prayers in return,” Chicago's Cardinal Archbishop Francis E. George told Mass attendees at the “Love and Life Center,” this week's headquarters for English-speaking pilgrims.
Cardinal George, who presided at the Mass, spoke “on behalf of my brother bishops,” thanking the U.S. pilgrims “for your dedication and your love to our Lord Jesus, for all your efforts and the testimony you have given.” New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan was the homilist at the Mass, concelebrated by all of the U.S. cardinals and bishops attending World Youth Day.
In his remarks, Cardinal George also encouraged the young pilgrims to be “grateful to your parents, your benefactors and all those who made possible for you to be here.”
After the Mass, delegates from the U.S. bishops' dioceses arranged for the faithful of the local churches to meet with their bishops, at sites throughout the large “Palacio de Deportes.”
Chicago resident Larissa Campos told CNA that “it was really cool to spend time with our bishop.”
“I haven’t seen him since I received confirmation and it was so great to be here with him, sharing the same experience,” she added, after meeting with Auxiliary Bishop John Manz.
“We also discovered he is a lot of fun … something we would have never imagined,” said Maricela Avila, also from Chicago.
The Mass and get-together was the last event held at the “Love and Life” pilgrim center, hosted by the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of Life. At its peak, on August 17, the site hosted 20,000 pilgrims.
Sponsors of the English-speaking center included Holy Cross Family Ministries, Canada’s Salt and Light Television Network, the Apostleship of Prayer, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), World Youth Alliance and the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.