Esta es la juventud del papa!

“We are the youth of the pope!

That was the chant, in Spanish, all throughout the airfield where Pope Benedict XVI joined us in a prayer vigil on Saturday night and Mass on Sunday morning to bring World Youth Day 2011 to a close.  We endured rain and wind, powerful enough that demolished the tent chapels arranged around the field, delayed adoration, and ruined the hosts that would be used for Mass the next morning.  Despite that, though, we were again being living witnesses to what it means to be Catholic, to be the universal Church.  The 1 million people, the multitude of languages, praying together as the Body of Christ, drove home that point as nothing else could.

– John Smestad Jr.

August 18, 2011 – Madrid


Yesterday, Archbishop Timothy Dolan said something to our group during a catechetical session that really spoke to me, so I thought that I should share it with all of you. He said, “Faith is always developing. Like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, and of course the best exercise for the faith ‘muscle’ is prayer.”

Over the past two days, I have found myself remembering this simile, and it has really inspired me to delve deeper into my prayer life. Luckily, on this pilgrimage, I am surrounded by prayer as well as opportunities to learn and share about my Catholic faith. From attending catechetical sessions and Mass every morning, to getting to know other young Catholics from across the world, to watching the Pope address the World Youth Day participants, there are so many enriching and interesting things to do, many of them thoroughly working out my faith “muscle” (much, much more effectively than a shake weight works out your arms). Yes, that was supposed to be a joke, so feel free to laugh out loud 🙂

I am also really enjoying bonding with our group from the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Over the past couple of days, I feel like we’ve really gotten to know each other, and we’ve already shared so many memories. Of course, a lot of our bonding experiences occurred when we were in the New Orleans airport for an entire day while we waited for our cancelled flight to be re-booked, but maybe that’s one of the reasons we were delayed in the first place.

There’s still so much left to experience here in Madrid for World Youth Day, and I am very excited for and open to what lies ahead!

God bless!



Laura Giroir


World Youth Day 2011: Attempt 1 and Day 1

Hello again, everyone.  Or should I say, “Hola!”  We are finally in Madrid, Spain, after several difficulties.  We were supposed to have arrived in Spain on August 15th, however, due to a mechanical error on the plane, we never actually left New Orleans.  We spent a wonderful day in the New Orleans airport learning patience and trust at the hands of the Lord.  On the upside, however, we were able to celebrate a beautiful liturgy in honor of Our Lady on the feast of the Assumption.

Having arrived in Madrid on August 16th, we were able to join the other millions of youth from around the world to celebrate the opening Mass of World Youth Day.  All I can say is that it was a wonderful witness to the universality of the Catholic Church and the youthfulness of our faith!  It was an amazing experience to look out on the sea of people and not be able to see the sidewalk for what seemed like miles in all directions.  Although it was a bit distracting at times due to the large number of people present and the constant pushing that took place due to people moving from one place to another during the Mass, the Lord was glorified none the less.  And at the end of the Mass, a relic of the blood of Blessed John Paul II was placed on the altar before all the pilgrims present.

One thing I am coming to learn from this experience is that the Lord is very generous with his graces when we ask for it.  Grace is a gift from the Lord, and salvation is the greatest gift of all.  Everything we do from the moment we reach the age of reason to the moment we take our last breath should be aimed at reaching our heavenly reward—at glorifying the Lord, and at loving His people because He loves us.  If we give ourselves completely to God, and I mean completely and unreservedly, He will bless us abundantly, more than we could ever imagine, just perhaps not in the way we might have expected.

Yesterday’s adventures, although not planned out like we would have liked, resulted in our meeting a young man from North Carolina who was traveling alone to Madrid, Spain.  He had just recently graduated from high school and was meeting the rest of his diocese in Madrid.  At the age of 18, I imagine that he was a little nervous to be traveling solo in a foreign country, but having met up with him, we were able to “adopt” him for part of the trip and help him along his way.  As it turns out, he plans to enter the seminary once he finishes his undergraduate studies.  Truly, God is gracious to those who are generous with themselves and with their time.  May we never shy away from sharing our faith with others and may we always seek to give glory and praise to the Lord in all we do!  Please pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, for as you know, we need holy and devoted priest to lead the Catholic Church into the culture of tomorrow.  Remain close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

In Christ,

Deacon Kurt

P.S. Here a few pictures from the airport in New Orleans.  One is of the entire group waiting while we found out that we did not have a flight on our first attempt.  Another is a picture of all the seminarians and the one priest who are on the trip.  And the third image is an image of several members of the group patiently praying and going along with whatever God has in store–the motto of our trip thus far.

World Youth Day Madrid 2011

The Archdiocese of New Orleans, through the CYO/Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office, will sponsor the trip to

the international World Youth Day 2011 with Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid, Spain. In collaboration with the Dioceses of Baton  Rouge, Alexandria, Lafayette and Lake Charles, there is a group of 21 young adults that will be pilgramaging to Madrid. Of the 21, 16 young adults are from the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Father Steve Bruno will serve as the group chaplain.

World Youth Day in Madrid is scheduled to have the most participants on record. One month prior to the event, there are already 440,000 registrants.

The group will leave New Orleans August 14 and return August 23. Please follow their pilgrimage as they post on the site.

New iGPII app for pilgrims on WYD

The new iGPII app for World Youth Day will provide its participants with an events program and timetable, GPS positioning through “Friend Finder,” information on food and accommodations, and documents containing the history of previous World Youth Days. It will work on iPhones, iPods, iPads and other devices running the iOS operating system.

The app will cost $4.99 from the Apple Store. Proceeds will help young people from developing countries get to Madrid and future World Youth Day celebrations, according to Catholic News Service.