A pilgrimage, I said, was quite different from a guided tour of a foreign country. On a vacation tour one does what one wants to do. On a pilgrimage one goes in search of the living God. Thus, a pilgrimage involves as much “interior” effort as the external, physical effort.
Just a few weeks before he left for World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, Brandon Lehner remembers that he was impressed by how many fans Target Field could hold. The 24-year-old software engineer multiplied that number by 50 as he watched the roughly 1.5 million pilgrims gather in a field for the overnight vigil Aug. 20 and papal Mass the following morning.
Justin Stroh first responded to the Holy Father’s call for an international gathering of youth by attending World Youth Day in Denver in 1993.
“Every time I’ve gone to World Youth Day, I’ve left with a deeper sense of love for my Catholic faith — it’s my identity, who I am as a son of the eternal Father in heaven who loves me,” he said.