MADRID – His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop of the Military Services, USA traveled from Washington, D.C. to Spain on Saturday to take part in services and activities observing World Youth Day (WYD) 2011. WYD, instituted by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1985, is celebrated at the diocesan level annually and at the international level every two to three years with a weeklong observance held at a different location around the world. More than one million youths and young adults from over 135 countries are attending WYD 2011 being held this week in Spain.
Archbishop Broglio said:
“Young people are the embodiment of our hope for the future. For the believer, there is a future which is already reality. It is the reality of eternal life, the fullness of joy, which the human person desires and longs for. This longing for fullness is present in the hearts of all. The fact that this future exists through Jesus Christ, changes the present. World Youth Day is an opportunity to celebrate Christian hope and what it means for our lives, both in this world and the next.”
After arriving in Madrid, Archbishop Broglio traveled by car to the remote Spanish mountain campground of San Nicolas de Burajuelo to join 140 French and Australian soldiers and other military personnel on the final day of a weeklong, 40-mile pilgrimage hike across steep terrain from Lourdes, France over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. Along the way, the pilgrims slept in tents and ate French rations and bread and cheese supplied by logistical support vans. The weather was balmy with temperatures in the mid-70s (Fahrenheit) to match the airy, prayerful mood of the pilgrims.
Archbishop Broglio met up with the pilgrims on Monday, the Feast of the Assumption. They gathered at San Nicolas de Burajuelo for Mass. Archbishop Broglio concelebrated with Bishop Luc Ravel of the French Military Diocese. After lunch, the pilgrims, accompanied by the archbishop, spent the afternoon hiking the campground trails through the Ordesa Mountains. At dinner, they treated each other to a round of comical skits recalling some of the humorous missteps and dilemmas of their arduous journey. They said prayers before turning in for the night in preparation for a seven-hour Tuesday bus ride to Madrid for the opening of WYD 2011
United States military personnel from more than a dozen installations are participating in WYD 2011. They include service men and women from: Luke Air Force Base in Arizona; Royal Air Force Lakenheath in England; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York; Dover Air Force Base in Delaware; Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State; Okinawa, Japan; Fort Wainwright in Alaska; Aviano Air Base in Italy; Sigonella Naval Air Station in Italy; Ramstein Air Base in Germany; Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany; and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Three members of the delegation from Luke Air Force Base will sit on the front row at the Saturday night Prayer Vigil with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.