U.S. Servicemen and Women Make Pilgrimage to Madrid for World Youth Day 2011

Archbishop greets young faithful in uniform

MADRID – Members of the United States armed forces were among the approximately 30,000 U.S. citizens who joined the pilgrimage here last week for World Youth Day (WYD) 2011. An estimated total of 1.5 million young people from more than 180 countries took part in the August 16-21 observance of WYD, a worldwide encounter of young people with the Pope which is celebrated every three years in a different country. On Saturday, many of the visiting military personnel attended a Mass held at the Madrid Sports Complex especially for U.S. pilgrims. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop of the Military Services, USA, concelebrated with dozens of other U.S. bishops, with His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, presiding.

Archbishop Broglio welcomed many of the military pilgrims personally. Before Mass, he greeted Soldiers and military families from Fort Wainwright, Alaska. After Mass, he mingled and chatted with Soldiers and military families from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. One of the Fort Bragg pilgrims said meeting the Archbishop was a highlight of his WYD experience. Later Saturday, following the Papal vigil in a rainstorm at Madrid’s Cuatro Vientos airfield, staffers from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA also greeted pilgrims from the Catholic communities at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado.

Archbishop Broglio said:

“On the occasion of World Youth Day, the Archdiocese for the Military Services pauses to remember, to pray and to give thanks for the sacrifices of many in the service of our Country. We think of so many who have died. We remember the wounded and those who are impaired in any way as a result of their generous service. I cannot forget the young faces of servicemen and women that I see here and on installations and Veterans’ Administration Hospitals that I have visited. Their sacrifices and those of their families urge us to continue our prayers to the gracious Lord as we beg for peace, increased understanding among Nations, and the ability to dialogue in the resolution of differences.

“Peace is a gift of God and at the same time a task which is never completed. A society reconciled with God is closer to peace, which is not the mere absence of war or the result of military or economic supremacy, much less deceptive ploys or clever manipulation. Rather, peace is the result of a process of purification and of cultural, moral and spiritual elevation involving each individual and people, a process in which human dignity is fully respected. I invite all those who wish to be peacemakers, especially the young, to heed the voice speaking in their hearts and thus find in God the stable point of reference for attaining authentic freedom, the inexhaustible force which can give the world a new direction and spirit, and overcome the mistakes of the past.”

As the only archdiocese in the United States without geographical boundaries, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA endorses priests for service to the U.S. military throughout the nation and around the world. Their mission is to meet the spiritual and sacramental needs of 1.5 million Catholics in the U.S. armed forces and their families as well as Catholics in VA Medical Centers and Catholics stationed overseas in U.S. government civilian posts.

For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, visit http://www.milarch.org