Bishop Knestout to join diocesan World Youth Day delegation on pilgrimage


Bishop Knestout to join diocesan contingent for pilgrimage to Fatima

The countdown to World Youth Day (WYD) has started and excitement is building among dozens of people from the Diocese of Richmond who will soon be among the throngs of Catholics gathered in Lisbon, Portugal.

“I’ve seen and heard how World Youth Day is transformative for so many people, so I’m hopeful for all the young people who will be there,” said Andrew Waring, director of the diocesan Office for Evangelization (OFE), which is leading the group.

Nearly 60 pilgrims from the diocese will make up the diocesan delegation headed to Portugal this summer.

The contingent includes pilgrims from approximately 20 parishes across the diocese – from Blacksburg to Virginia Beach – and also from Virginia Tech Catholic Campus Ministry. A dozen of them are high school students. About two dozen are young adults, ranging from teenagers who graduated from high school a year ago, to people who are 35 years old.

Several priests and seminarians will also travel with the diocesan party. Seminarian Graham Fassero is one of them – he says he is looking forward to going in a group.

“It takes away that sense of individualism,” he said. “There will be an emphasis on community … just as the Catholic Church is a big community.”

“I’m particularly excited that we have such a strong group from the diocese this time around,” said Katie Yankoski, associate director of Youth and Young Adults in the OFE. This will be her third trip to WYD.

WYD is from August 1-6, but the diocesan group begins its extended pilgrimage about one week prior to the festivities in Lisbon. The trip starts with a visit to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, in France, where the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.

Waring said he is looking forward to visiting the Marian sites during the pilgrimage. “Just to be where Our Lady has actually appeared” will be very special, he said.

The group then heads to Spain to visit the magnificent cathedrals in Burgos and Santiago de Compostela.

Bishop Barry C. Knestout will join them for the next stop on the pilgrimage route – Fatima, in central Portugal, where Our Lady appeared to three young children in 1917. The diocesan group is scheduled to walk the Stations of the Cross to Aljustrel, the village where the three children lived, then visit the Chapel of the Apparitions, and participate in a candlelight procession.

“It will be really nice to be with our bishop in this amazing place where Mary appeared, to be able to pray together with our shepherd,” said Waring.

He added that having Bishop Knestout join them will also be special because “it isn’t often that we have so many people from different demographics in our diocese together in one place to pray as one.”

“He’s our spiritual father,” said Fassero, adding that having the bishop with them emphasizes unity, “that we are going as a diocese” to WYD.

From Fatima, the journey transitions into the weeklong WYD events in Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. The local pilgrims will take part in catechesis events during the day, followed by cultural events in the evening. Bishop Knestout will participate in events throughout the week along with bishops from around the world.

The logo for World Youth Day 2023 depicts a cross, rosary and a profile of Mary in the colors of the Portuguese flag. It was presented at the Vatican Oct. 16, 2020. The Vatican announced Pope Francis will be in Portugal Aug. 2-6 and would go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima Aug. 5. (CNS photo/courtesy Fundação JMJ Lisboa 2023)

Even though the bishop has his own schedule in Lisbon, “just knowing he is there with us to pray and teach … there will still be a connection,” said Waring.

Diocesan leaders say the group will take part in Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis, overnight adoration, and the closing Mass with the Holy Father to wrap up the event.

Fassero said he is looking forward to the overnight adoration and vigil most of all, when huge crowds camp out overnight. “This is sort of the main event, and to have so many Catholics praying together will be amazing,” said the seminarian.

“It’s a universal experience,” said Yankoski. “You’re so immersed and you see things that make each country unique, but we’re all still worshiping in similar ways as Catholics.”

Bishop Knestout to join other bishops at WYD

ORLANDO, Fla. (OSV News) – Bishop Barry C. Knestout will join nearly 60 U.S. bishops and archbishops at World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon.

The bishops heard a report on WYD preparations on June 16 during their spring assembly in Orlando, Florida.

Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona- Rochester, Minnesota, said WYD can be “the start of a movement in our Church that can renew our hope, rejuvenate our communities, and rekindle our missionary mandate.”

During WYD, U.S. pilgrims – including the attending clergy and religious – are asked to lead and participate in synodal catechetical sessions called “Rise Up!”.

Bishop Knestout said he plans to attend the catechetical sessions, but the international organizers of WYD have not yet determined who will lead them.

Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas said there will be 14 catechetical sites for U.S. pilgrims – nine in English and five in Spanish. U.S. pilgrims will have a national gathering Aug. 2, at Parque da Quinta das Conchas near the Lisbon airport.

There also will be a special chapel and meeting place for U.S. pilgrims in the heart of WYD near the Church of St. Joseph of the Carpenters (Igreja de São José dos Carpinteiros).

— Jean Gonzalez; The Catholic Virginian Staff

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