By Kaitlin Langelier
(Kaitlin is a 17 year old student at BFA Fairfax and a Parishioner of St. Luke's who attended World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto this past July - My thanks to Kaitlin for sharing this experience along with photos of this trip)
Before Leaving For Toronto
We meet the bus in St. Albans. Were all so excited to get on the road, to begin our adventure. Were the last ones on the bus, and its almost full, so we have to sit in the back, right next to the bathroom! Our chaperones, Mark and Sarah, are with us. We say our goodbyes and wave to our families out the window, and were finally on our way!
Jen fixes my braids for me. Weve all had our hair braided in tiny braids. Were figuring showers are going to be scarce and this way we wont have to worry about washing or fixing our hair.
The closer we get to Toronto, the more excited we get! We finally reach the school where well be staying and get our room assignments. We have the last room on the right, but its one of the emptier rooms, so were all content. We go and look for the showers; there are only four of them. I am extremely happy that I wont have to worry about washing my hair.
Our Room At The School Where We Slept
Today is the opening Mass at Exhibition Place. The bus brings us right to the front gates, so we dont have to walk far at all. Ive never seen so many people in one place before! Everyone is smiling and happy; Im sure they are all as excited as we are! Every group seems to have a flag of the country theyre from. Every time we see someone carrying a US flag we all cheer and yell USA!, as does the other group of people. On our way to lunch we meet a group from Michigan; they are so funny. I wish I had their address, because Ill probably never see them again. We are right in the middle of the crowd, but we can see whats happening on the huge monitors. The singing is awesome; it will always remind me of this day. Malo, Malo thanks be to God.....!!
Our First Day At Exhibition Place
We are at catechesis this morning. It is a lot of fun; we sing, watch people put on little acts, listen to the bishop of Toronto give a talk (which is very good!), and then there was Mass after. My favorite part is singing Yes Lord, Yes Lord Yes Yes Lord....AMEN!! For supper everyone meets by the lake. It is very peaceful. For supper we have more slop (mushy vegetables with rice or noodles) with pita shells, a slice of cheese, and yummy a brownie. The meals are definitely not the best, but we eat them because we are hungry.
We Meet Albert and Hannze from Germany
(I am 3rd from the left)
And Here I Am With Friends From Tahiti
We go to catechesis again this morning, but were late, because the bus dropped us off about 2 miles from the front gates. We sitting way in the back, and cant really see, but its still good. We go to confession, and adoration. The welcoming ceremony is today, and Im so excited to see the Pope!! We are far from the stage, but the big screens help us to see better. Everyone is singing, and the Pope is coming!! We all start to cry, and it feels good. I got cold chills all over my body as I saw him. Everyone is waving their flags, and chanting in their own languages. We are saying JP II WE LOVE YOU!!!!
Today is the way of the cross so we are going to go to downtown Toronto. The buildings are so big! Nothing like the buildings in Vermont. We go on the subway! It is my first time ever riding on one, and it is very exciting. The way of the cross is very moving. Were at the thirteenth station, and that is when I start to cry. Im glad to have my friends there with me, so we could share everything. It has been awesome so far, and I dont want the week to end.
Our Friends From Italy
Our Friends From Tennessee
Today is our six mile walk to Downsview Lands. We just left the school at nine, and its a little later than we wanted to leave. I just hope we get a good spot right in front of the stage. Today and tomorrow is my last chance to see the Pope, and I would like to get a picture of him. We make it through our walk. Lets just say it is very hot. My tank is soaked right through, especially my back, its nasty. We find a spot right in front of the stage though, even though its muddy. We dont care though; we figure were from VT so we can deal with it. I am right on the barricade to see the Pope!!!!! Where He comes through is right behind us, and we only waited like 45 minutes before he came! Oh my gosh it was incredible!! I could see his face and everything!! I have goosebumps all over, and Im shaking real bad; it is just amazing. I just hope my pictures came out. This is definitely a day I will remember for the rest of my life.
We Welcome Pope John II
Pope John Paul II
"I have goose bumps all over, I'm shaking Real Bad"
Well its around six oclock in the morning and it just started to pour. Luckily Mark our chaperone brought a small tent so we put all our sleeping bags and everything else under it. But everything is still getting soaking wet, and all that mud; man do I love mud! I guess it was a good wake up call, were just happy that we got to sleep some last night.
Our Spot For The Saturday Night Vigil
Mud Where We Slept
Rain On Sunday Morning
Pouring Rain At The Papal Mass
The Holy Father Saying Mass
Were back at the school, and everyone is trying to take showers. Kayleigh and I take out all my braids, seeing as well be going home tomorrow; it never felt so good to wash my hair! Im sure we are all going to sleep good tonight, and tomorrow we have to have everything ready to go by six thirty. Ugh.
On the road again! Were going home!! Were all so happy to be going home, but sad at the same time because we dont want to leave all the happy nice people. It definitely was an amazing experience, and I wish that everyone I know could have had a chance to experience what I felt. Oh well, Im tired so Im going to sleep.
Attending World Youth Day was an amazing experience. There were a lot of hardships: the heat, the walking, the l-o-n-g trips to use the facilities, the slop , the lack of showers. But the joy of being in the presence of the Holy Father and being able to celebrate my faith with young Catholics from all over the globe definitely outweighed the sacrifices. I cant wait for World Youth Day 2005 - Cologne, Germany, here I come!!