Pilgrimage pit stop

WYD pilgrims praying outside of Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Honolulu

WYD pilgrims praying outside of Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Honolulu

Hundreds of Mainland pilgrims are coming through Hawaii on their way to Sydney and the ones I’ve met so far seem pumped to be in Hawaii before heading to World Youth Day.

On Sunday, I briefly spoke to a group of 25 pilgrims from the Diocese of Springfield, in Illinois, led by Father Daren Zehnle, as they visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in downtown Honolulu. They were here from July 3-7 and were trying to see as many of the sites as they could. They had just attended Mass at the cathedral and were headed for a hike at Diamond Head Crater wearing the shell leis given to cathedral visitors.

The Neocatechumenal Way has the largest group visiting here. Two hundred seventy-five people from Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix, New York and Newark will be in the islands at different times this week. Yesterday I sat in on the Newark group’s visit with Bishop Larry Silva and a talk on Blessed Damien de Veuster. One moment that seemed to especially touch them was when a first-class relic of Father Damien — several strands of his hair — was brought out for veneration. They also got a chance to see other artifacts of the soon-to-be saint. The presentation and veneration will be repeated two other times this week.

That afternoon, we got to to talk to 60 people (40 from the U.S. and 20 from Mexico) led by brothers and fathers from the Community of St. John in Laredo, Texas. They held their own Mass in the cathedral before posing for pictures in front of the Our Lady of Peace statue outside and doing a short adoration prayer. The statue was decked out in plumeria leis with purple and white orchid and ti leaf kahilis (a traditional Hawaiian symbol of royalty) on each side. They had a really quick trip – just one day on Oahu – before flying to Sydney!

The Diocese of Honolulu is organizing a big event tomorrow in Waikiki for even more visitors from the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Laredo, Texas, and Rockville Center, New York. Those 174 people will enjoy and all day “Aloha Spirit Youth Day” including Mass with Bishop Silva, Hawaiian cultural activities (a.k.a. hula, lei-making, etc.), talks on the history of the Church in Hawaii and Blessed Damien and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, and a Sunset Rosary on the Beach. I’m looking forward to meeting even more of the visiting pilgrims then.

And my personal countdown continues – three days ’til takeoff. The Diocese of Honolulu’s group leaves Sunday! I wonder if I’ll run into any of our island visitors in Sydney.

P.S. As I was writing this blog post, two trolley cars full of cheering and chanting people just drove past the Cathedral here in Honolulu. I don’t know if they’re any of the visiting WYD pilgrims, but I can’t wait to see and feel that kind of on fire spirit at WYD.

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