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WYD 2011 Begins, First Pilgrim's Blog Posted

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Hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from around the world, including more than 60 from the Diocese of Raleigh, gathered Tuesday for the Opening Mass of World Youth Day 2011. Cardinal Antonio Ruoco Varela of Madrid, Spain, host city of the international gathering, told the young people that World Youth Day will be forever tied to Blessed Pope John Paul II, who began the celebration in the 1980s. Calling the late Holy Father “the Pope of the young,” Cardinal Ruoco said Blessed John Paul II's relationship with young people was unprecedented," a hitherto unknown relationship between the church and her young: direct, immediate...imbued with a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, enthusiastic, hopeful, joyful, contagious."

Prior to the Mass, which took place at 7:30pm Madrid time (1:30pm Eastern), the Raleigh pilgrims took a 70-mile side trip to the Shrine of St. Theresa of Avila, the female Patron Saint of Spain and the first woman to be named a Doctor of the Church. They arrived in Spain late Monday, after a bus ride from the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

The Diocesan pilgrims will be posting blogs and photos on a special virtual pilgrimage page accessible by clicking the WYD 2011 button on the right side of the Diocesan home page. Mrs. Kathryn Diener posted a blog entry, titled “The Grotto was My Heaven,” with her reflections on the visit to Lourdes. The virtual site also has links to major events that will take place during the next five days, including live streaming of liturgical celebrations. You are invited to visit the virtual site daily.

Above: Picture tweeted by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of gathering at World Youth Day Opening Mass August 16 in Madrid, Spain.